After Ralph McClearn Dougherty was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, his brother Celius, a successful composer and pianist, wrote “Music from Seas and Ships,” a sonata for two pianos, in his honor.
The Dougherty brothers grew up with music at their home in Glenwood in central Minnesota. Their mother, Louise Park Dougherty, oversaw music education in schools, played the organ, directed the choir at Glenwood Congregational Church, and formed a band with seven of her children.
“I recall my mother most vividly at the kitchen sink because while she washed dishes, she always studied a musical score, which was propped up on the sill in front of her,” Celius said.
Ralph, born Oct. 3, 1898, and nicknamed Pug, was the sixth of about eight children. His father, William, was a bank cashier.
Ralph enlisted in the Navy in 1917 and served in World War I. An older brother, Capt. Francis Eugene Dougherty, died near the end of that war, in October 1918, when a shell burst close to him in the Argonne Forest in France. A West Point graduate, he was in command of a battalion that came under such fierce attack that 46 other American soldiers died within 50 yards of where he fell.
A third Dougherty brother, Wallace Robert, was a sergeant in the First Gas Regiment, which fought in three major offensives across the western front in WWI. He survived. A fourth brother, Richard Carroll, served briefly in the Army in the summer of 1918.
Ralph made the Navy his career. He was a fire controlman and petty officer first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he died at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
Sources: brightwoodboys.com; celiusdougherty.org; Army records; reunion record of the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy; Census; U.S. Headstone Application for Military Veterans; “The Story of the First Gas Regiment,” by James Thayer Addison; Veterans Administration. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.