William Dougherty, 87, a pressman for the Daily News and then the Inquirer from the year he turned 18 until he retired in the year he turned 64, never let his one musical failing bother him during decades with string bands on New Year's Day.
"He never learned to read music," daughter Denise Boyd said.
When he asked to march up Broad Street with musicians for the first time in the 1980s, she said, an organizer for the Trilby String Band said, "Can you keep a beat?"
When Mr. Dougherty said he could, the Trilby man answered, "Good, you're going to be my drummer."
Mr. Dougherty had first marched up the street with the Liberty Comics in the 1970s. His daughter said he stepped away only in 2011, as a marshal with the Quaker City String Band, in the year he turned 82.
On Friday, Nov. 18. Mr. Dougherty, of Deptford, who retired in 1993 as a pressman after a 46-year career with the newspapers, died of cancer at the Mount Ephraim home of his daughter.
Mr. Dougherty spent many summers at his home in Wildwood, she said.
Born in Grays Ferry, he dropped out of school to help support his family of eight brothers and sisters, she said, and began as a pressman, just like his father, John.
In later years, his daughter said, his son Patrick, two grandsons, and a son-in-law followed him into the rooms with the huge paper rolls.
Joe King first met Mr. Dougherty in 1990, when King joined the Trilby band as a guitar player, a year before Mr. Dougherty went to the Broomall String Band.
They met up again when King joined the Quaker City Band, where Mr. Dougherty was a marshal.
"He was a gentleman," King said. "Always a pleasure being around him."
On Tuesday, Nov. 22, King is to play banjo at Mr. Dougherty's visitation.
Besides his daughter, Mr. Dougherty is survived by his wife of 63 years, Kathryn; son Patrick; daughters Kathleen Toland and Linda Dow; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A visitation was set from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, at the Earle Funeral Home, 122 W. Church St., Blackwood, and a Funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, at St. John Vianney Church, 2901 Good Intent Rd., Deptford, with entombment in New St. Mary Cemetery, Bellmawr.
Donations may be sent to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at www.stjude.org.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.earlefuneralhome.com.