Johnny Doc, a stand up guy

John Dougherty at the GP Friendly sons banquet. Photo by Lois Grimm

John Dougherty at the GP Friendly sons banquet. Photo by Lois Grimm

John Dougherty held up his left fist and raised each finger as he said, “I am an Irish. White. Male. Catholic. Democrat. And any one of those can get someone upset with me in Philadelphia.”
But he quickly emphasized his enormous pride in each of those descriptions and offers no apology for any of them.
He said, no, he proclaimed that he is fiercely proud of his Irish heritage, his Catholic faith and his lifelong Democratic attitude of wanting to help the downtrodden.
Dougherty, affectionately known as “Johnny Doc,” addressed a crowd of more than 400 at the 101st annual Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Banquet Tuesday night at The Woodlands. He began by admitting that despite speaking in front of large groups on a regular basis, he found himself somewhat nervous. That was due in part, he said, to the long list of impressive speakers at previous Greater Pittston events. He mentioned President Harry Truman, speaker in 1956, and Bobby Kennedy, who addressed the gathering in 1964, just months after the assassination of his brother. He said he is a big fan of Bobby Kennedy.
Dougherty also referred to Sen. Hubert Humphrey, principal speaker in 1972. “I have a picture of Hubert Humphrey in my office,” he said, adding he is not a “bleeding heart” but tends to lean to the left on causes that support average people. Yes, he said, a strong Catholic can support liberal causes.
All the while Dougherty spoke, I, as toastmaster, sitting just to his right, kept thinking this is the best example of something I always admired and always wanted to be: a stand up guy.
That’s a little used expression these days but something men my age were told we should be from the time we were little boys. Stand up guys are men you can count on, men of their word, men who will, as the term suggests, stand up and be counted.
Dougherty said he loves his Catholic faith and is completely devoted to his church and its teachings. Stand up guy, I thought.
Dougherty said, “I want to say this and I want to say it loud. I love my Dad and I love my Mom.” Stand up guy, I thought.
Dougherty always says and said it again Tuesday night, “The best way to never forget where you came from is to never leave.” He still lives in Philadelphia not far from the house in which he was born, in which he lived with 11 aunts and uncles, all of whom had immigrated from Ireland, and where he raised his daughter Erin. Stand up guy, I thought.
As a reminder of how far people of Irish ancestry have come, Dougherty, who serves as business manager of the 6,000 member strong International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW) Local 98, keeps a sign in his office that reads, “No Irish need apply.”
He told the group he will never stop fighting for the American worker and for fairness, equality and peace throughout the nation and the world.
He closed by promising those gathered he is available to help each of them in any way he can. He backed it up by giving them his email address: jjdoc@ibew98.org
To prove he meant it, he repeated it three times.
Just what you’d expect from a stand up guy.

Ed Ackerman