John Dougherty

John T. Dougherty, 95, of Waukon, with family at his side, passed peacefully from this world Saturday, February 1, 2020 at Northgate Care Center in Waukon. Funeral services were held Tuesday, February 4 at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Waukon with Fr. Mark Osterhaus officiating. Burial was at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Waukon.

John Dougherty was born October 21, 1924 in Waukon. John was a farmer from his earliest days into his 80s, and raising kids, cattle and horses was in his blood. His family rented farms in Silver Creek, Harpers Ferry and West Ridge until his parents, Emmet and Irene, were able to buy a farm of their own just east of Waukon.

Life on a Depression-era farm without electricity was difficult and the lessons of thriftiness and hard work stayed with him. It wasn’t all hard work, though. There were ball games with family and neighbor kids, sleigh rides, and threshing days when the neighborhood gathered together to share the work and the bounty of their farms.

John was in the first class to graduate from the St. Patrick’s High School building. While he was a faithful member of the parish for the rest of his life, he still remembered skipping school to play pool at lunchtime more than any of his classes.

After high school, John continued farming with his dad. For three years he and a friend would go to North Dakota for several months to thresh and shock wheat, earning up to a $1 an hour. He saved his money so that eventually he could buy his own place.

In the early 1950s, he started dating Rita Mettille. While he had to work hard to convince her to marry him, the big day finally happed June 10, 1952 in Lansing. Once married, they started producing “farmhands”: first Rod, then Linda, Tim, Greg, Vince, Anita, Dean, Wayne, Scott and Brian.

John and Rita got their own farm southeast of town in 1956 and the family lived and worked there for the next 46 years. John was mostly a dairyman, and the life of the farm revolved around the rhythm of twice-daily milking and planting and harvesting crops. There was always work, but there were still occasional ball games - enough kids to make a baseball team, pony cart rides, and time spent with close family.

Once the number of farmhands started to dwindle in the late 1980s, John and Rita sold off the herd and enjoyed life a bit more. There were camper trips to see the family, a cruise to Alaska to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and several visits to Branson, MO to enjoy some country music - one of John’s lifelong passions.

Another passion was horses. There was always a horse or pony around the farm, and after the cows were gone, John tried his hand at raising Tennessee Walkers. He fretted over them, often getting out of bed at night to check on the mares when they were foaling; an amount of attention that Rita doesn’t recall receiving. John and Rita left the farm in 2002 and moved into Waukon.

John was preceded in death by his parents, Emmett and Irene (Bresnahan) Dougherty; his brothers, Donald and Joe Dougherty; and his sisters, Mary Wagner, Lela Urell and Helen Kelley. He is survived by his wife, Rita Dougherty of Waukon; a sister, Alice Johnson of Cedar Rapids; a brother, Jim (Eileen) Dougherty of Dorchester; and 10 children: Rod (Carla) Dougherty of Des Moines, Linda (Mark) Evans of Arvada, CO, Tim (Laura) Dougherty of Eureka, MO,  Greg Dougherty of Gillette, WY, Vince (Katie) Dougherty of Greeley, CO, Anita (Randy) Krieg of Pittsford, NY, Dean (Ruthie) Dougherty of Olga, WA, Wayne (Rebecca) Dougherty of Lakewood, CO, Scott Dougherty of Waukon and Brian (Kecia) Dougherty of Dubuque; 22 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Casketbearers were John’s sons. Online condolences may be left at

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