EW mourns the loss of Art Director Kevin Dougherty
By the EW Staff
He was an artist, a friend, a lover of music, a father and a cherished part of Eugene. Longtime EW Art Director and Production Manager Kevin Dougherty died at home on Oct. 21 of an apparent heart attack. A community celebration of his life is planned from 7 pm to midnight Thursday, Oct. 29, at the WOW Hall.
Dougherty leaves behind three children, Jack, 13, Sarah, 18, and Daniel, 21, and their mothers, Jayne Mondello and Aria Seligmann. He leaves three sisters, Christine McMahon, Maureen Cullen and Diane Dougherty and his mother, Francis Dougherty, 91. And he leaves hundreds of friends in the Eugene community from everyone at the EW to the Oregon Country Fair and beyond.
Dougherty died during a hail of shooting stars, the Orionid meteor shower. He used to tell his friends he wanted Bob Dylan’s song, “Shooting Star,” played at his funeral, and the song was played along with a slide show of photos at the beginning of the Best of Eugene Awards Show at the McDonald Theatre Oct. 24, where the audience gave a standing ovation to his memory.
Dougherty grew up in New York, where he played in Central Park, went to Coney Island and rode the Staten Island Ferry with his sisters, releasing birthday wishes in balloons as the ferry passed the Statue of Liberty. After a brief stint on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, he used the money he had made to follow the Grateful Dead to the West Coast and eventually to Eugene. To help support his travels he tie-dyed T-shirts in hotel bathtubs to sell along the way. At one point, he worked for a pet detective called Sherlock Bones.
He already had a degree in business, but following his love for art, he went back to school for graphic design at LCC. Tim Blood, his adviser at LCC, wrote the Weekly an email saying that Dougherty’s sudden death “is a huge loss to this community.” Norma Sax, who worked with Dougherty at the OCF writes, “His willingness to share his enormous artistic talent and creativity was a treasured gift for us.” She adds, “We know right now he’s dancing at the biggest Fair of all and smiling that Kevin smile.” These are only two of dozens of messages the Weekly received mourning Dougherty’s death.
Dougherty began working at the Eugene Weekly in 1994. In 1998 he became production manager, and in 1999 also took over the job of art director. He served on the executive committee that ran the newspaper as well.
Dougherty was an accomplished artist in several media and had a long involvement with art in Eugene. He helped found the Last Friday ArtWalk, and hosted early performances of the Lord Leebrick Theatre in his living room.
“We remember him for his laughter, his hugs, his patience with the millions of corrections the editorial staff made to their stories, long after they were supposed to be done, and his staunch support of his art and production staff,” says reporter Camilla Mortensen. “He would also drop chocolate on the desks of tired writers, and make lunch for sales people that he thought needed a little better nutrition.”
“He cared a lot about people,” says Bill Shreve, the Weekly’s director of sales and marketing.
“What you see in your hands when you pick up a copy of Eugene Weekly — the award-winning cover designs, the layout, the use of headlines and images, many of the advertising designs — it’s all the work of Kevin and his crew,” says Editor Ted Taylor. “The Art Department is where it all comes together every week, and Kevin’s creativity has been a driving force for the past 15 years. Kevin was a great storyteller and I think that’s one of the reasons he loved the newspaper so much. Stories and photos have a profound power to change the way people think about our world, and he helped make our stories vibrant and readable.”
Todd Cooper worked closely with Dougherty in production and remembers him for “his sense of humor and patience on stressful weeks, for his willingness to always drop whatever he was doing to help you out,” and for teaching him that “it’s important to get it all done, but family always comes first.”
Dougherty recently returned from a trip to New York to see his mother and was elated to have reconnected with his first girlfriend, Holly Nicolois.
Family and friends tell of his love for and commitment to his three children. His daughter, Sarah Dougherty remembers long car trips with her father, including a vacation this past summer to visit family in California. “We would complain about going back home because we were having so much fun,” she says. “He could drive for hours and hours. I don’t know how he could do it but he really did enjoy being in the car with me and Jack.”
Many people in Eugene remember Dougherty as the owner of the classic red-and-black Eugene Weekly VW van, which he bought from the paper and kept running for as long as possible. It was parked outside his house. Former reporter Kera Abrams says alongside the ever-changing art he created and displayed, “even the vintage EW van seemed like an art installation.”
Sarah Decker worked closely with Dougherty in production, and says, “Kevin was an amazing boss and coworker, a wonderful friend and an inspirational human being. He knew how to make us laugh, and he sure knows how to make us weep. I will miss him every day of my life.”
Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of you.
You were trying to break into another world
A world I never knew.
I always kind of wondered
If you ever made it through.
Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of you.
Seen a shooting star tonight
Tomorrow will be another day.
Guess it’s too late to say the things to you
That you needed to hear me say.
Seen a shooting star tonight
— Bob Dylan, ‘Shooting Star’
I Always Wanted a Boy Named Kevin
Frances Dougherty, mother
While expecting my first birth in 1948, the doctor asked which I would prefer, a boy or a girl (this was before amniocentesis tests). I said, “I always wanted a boy named Kevin.”
When my first was born, a beautiful baby girl, I was overjoyed and named her Maureen. In 1951, with an impending birth, I again said, “I always wanted a boy named Kevin.” When a second beautiful baby girl was born, I was ecstatic and named her Diane Marie. Seven years later with approaching motherhood, I again made my wish known, and came home happily with a beautiful baby I named Christine.
Twelve years after my firstborn, I again let my longing be known — a boy named Kevin. When I was handed a bundle of joy, it was at last a boy named Kevin! And my dream was finally fulfilled. He was more than any mother could ever expect and I was fortunate to claim him as my own for close to fifty years.
Memories of My Brother
Christine McMahon, sister
Things I remember most about my brother, Kevin:
Trips to Brighton Beach and Coney Island — playing “21” (a ball game), and you dropping the ball on purpose because when we reached a score of “21,” it was time to go home.
Eating custard on the boardwalk and both of us falling asleep on Dad's lap on the way home. Dad carrying you home the four blocks from the subway because you were the “baby,” while I had to walk. I could never really be mad at you for that because you were too darn cute.
Going to Central Park and riding the carousel. We always hoped the guy would forget to collect our tickets so we could get an extra ride! You always made a beeline for the biggest horse, although your feet barely reached the stirrups.
Riding the Staten Island Ferry on our birthdays — writing down our wishes on paper and putting them inside balloons, then watching as we set them free off the back of the ferry, as we passed the Statue of Liberty. It was so exhilarating — we would jump up and down, laughing! Today, we'd probably get arrested for doing that!
I remember the days we “kicked back” on “Tar Beach” (the roof of our apartment building) and pretended we were on some exotic, tropical island. I guess we watched too many episodes of Gilligan's Island! Occasionally, we stopped dreaming long enough to throw water balloons at unsuspecting people down below! Or we would tape a dollar bill to some fishing line, and hiding and watching people try to pick up the dollar, we'd yank it away! You enjoyed the pranks we played, but even then you were so good-hearted.
I remember one Halloween when I was sick and couldn't go out trick-or-treating. You went with your friends and came home with your pillowcase stuffed with candy. You dumped it out on my bed and I asked you if I could have a piece. You laughed and said, “That's all yours! Now I'm going back out to get mine!” What a great brother! Even at the tender age of eight, you put others before yourself.
And then there were the teenage years. How you slept out on the fire escape in the summer and blasted Stones music out your bedroom window! All the neighbors learned the words to “Honky Tonk Woman!” I have many wonderful childhood memories of us together.
When you were in your twenties, you decided that, as much as you tried, you were not the “Wall Street type.” You came to see me at work to inform me that you were “heading West” with a bunch of Deadheads you had just met at a concert, and “the bus” was leaving! In my typical New York paranoia, I asked, “How do you know they're not a bunch of serial killers?!” You laughed and said, “You just have to learn to trust people sometimes. They seem nice — plus I got 50 bucks in my pocket, so I'm good to go! I'll send you a postcard when I get to San Francisco!” Sometimes, I wished I were a free spirit like you!
It turned out to be a major turning point in your life; for it was there that you met Jayne, whom you married and had two beautiful children with, Daniel and Sarah. Later, you met Aria and had your youngest son, Jack, whom you affectionately called, “Mini-me” because you were so much alike!
In recent years, I have come to appreciate and respect you as an adult and as a father to your three wonderful children. I have seen how loving and caring you were to them, and how you treated them with the respect they deserve.
I am so happy that we got to share some great times together these past two summers. I never knew anyone who sang worse Karaoke than me, until I heard you belting out, “Jumpin' Jack Flash”! Sarah and Jack had to drag us out of the arcade amid stares, but we didn't care — we were having too much fun!
We tubed our way down the Salt River in Arizona, crashing into trees and paddling furiously to stay clear of the herd of beautiful wild horses we encountered. I also remember spiraling down the giant slide at the Water Park. When the operator said that one person had to face backwards, you were the one who offered to do it! You weren't even offended when we laughed at you for screaming like a little girl the whole way down!
I heard the pride in your voice as you told us about Jack's concerts and school activities. When Sarah wanted to drive to the store near my house by herself, you saw my worried look. You said, “Sarah's smart — she knows how to find her way around. Besides, she's a better driver than I am!” Then, I heard you talking to Daniel, your oldest son, on the phone, giving him fatherly advice. You ended the conversation by saying, “I love you, son. We miss you.”
It touched my heart. Your children will grow up confident and strong and knowing that they were very much loved by their Dad. I noticed how, every morning at my house, when you were sitting at the kitchen counter having your coffee, Sarah would come up behind you and fling her arms around you and say, “I love you, Dad!” You replied, “I love you, too, Sarah!” I knew that you were realizing that she was growing up so fast, ready to start college, but that she would always be your “little girl.”
I could go on forever, but some memories will just stay in my mind and heart forever. I want people to know what a good, kind-hearted, funny and talented brother I will always have. Even now, I feel your presence and hear the familiar, “Hey, how's it goin'?” of your voice.
It is so ironic to me that we are mourning your passing and celebrating your life on this date, October29th. It is thirteen years to the day that we buried our Dad, Lawrence. I take this as a sign and a true belief that Dad is greeting you, Kevin Lawrence, with open arms, and that you are both watching over us. We love you, Kev. You've done well by so many people in your short life and we are so proud of you for all you have accomplished.
I will always remember you driving away from my house only two months ago. You rolled down the window, flashed a peace sign, and yelled, “I love you, sis!” and drove off into the sunset. That was the last time I saw you. Rest in peace, my favorite brother.
Love always, your favorite sister,
Christine (Ha, had to get that in, in case you forgot).
Maureen Cullen, sister
Sorry to be so far away from Eugene today, but the distance is only in miles, as it has been for many years now. I am with you in my heart — and with Jayne, Daniel, Sarah, Aria, Jack and my sisters Diane and Chris, along with their families and all who have gathered to remember you.
I have heard so much his week about the depth of your commitment to your work and community, and I value the tributes from your co-workers and friends and the many others you touched in the Eugene community and beyond. I am not surprised by reports of your warmth and humor and creative energy. But I didn’t realize the extent to which others appreciated these qualities, and am happy for the good will, support, love and friendship they shared with you.
This Sunday morning on the radio the Rev. Bruce Southold caught my attention — he was speaking about loss and about both sides of remembrance, that memory can delight us, memory can haunt us, that it is both happy and painful. Mom and I have taken many trips down memory lane in the past few days, in stories about your childhood antics (and there were many!) and in photos of milestone occasions in your life and happy visits with Mom, Dad and your growing West Coast family.
While you and Chris, close in age, were playmates, I was one of two big sisters who often babysat and then, later on, went off to work while you were still playing on the sidewalk. Walking home from the subway one day, I remember saying “Hi” to you and a new friend playing outside on our block. “Who’s that lady?” the other boy asked after I passed by. In the best Henny Youngman tradition you replied, “That’s not a lady, that’s my sister.”
Mom’s memories include trying to keep a straight face while disciplining you as a kid because your explanations for your wrongdoing were often so innocently funny. Even one of your first jobs after heading out West had an element of humor — working for a pet detective known as Sherlock Bones!
I can’t help thinking how fortunate it was that this past year included such good times with both East and West Coast friends and family. On your visit to New York in early June we had lunch together in Madison Square Park, and you had a chance to spend time with Mom, see many old friends in Astoria, go to a Yankees game in the new stadium and to the Museum of Modern Art. You talked enthusiastically about your work, your dear departed canine companion and most of all about your children — your finest legacy of all. You were so proud of them and so interested in everything they were doing — Daniel’s culinary adventures, Sarah’s upcoming graduation, and Jack’s stage performances and experiments in movie-making. Your summer road trip topped off the season, with visits to Diane and Chris along the way. My last phone conversation with you began, “Hey, we’ve just arrived in San Clemente and we’re having a great time!”
My first thought, Kev, on learning that you were gone was that now you are even farther away than Eugene, beyond reach, but that’s not really true. Your vibrant spirit lingers forever in the hearts of those with whom you shared your life.
As our kid sister Chris had a habit of saying when any of us left home for any reason — from a trip to the grocery store to a long journey — “Good-bye, good luck.”
Love always, your sister Maur,
and love from Joe and Matt
My brother, Kevin
Diane Dougherty, sister
I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from the community. I knew that Kevin, my brother, was involved in many things relating to the arts and music. But I'm only starting to realize just how much he was an integral part of Eugene. We've been meeting so many people who have a story of how Kevin touched their lives and the legacy he leaves behind at the Eugene Weekly, the Oregon Country Fair and the arts community.
He was generous with his time, his hugs and he cared deeply for many people. I was always touched and inspired by what a great Dad he was to Daniel, Sarah and Jack. We are still shocked by his death, which seems so unfair and much too soon. I've been trying to figure out what Kevin would want us to take from this devastating loss. I think he would want us to care about each other, to know that family, however you define it, comes first, to give back to the community and make it a better place for everyone. And to always share your chocolate.
Ever since I moved back home and started school at Sheldon High School, I got closer to my dad. I started to see him more. I asked him to be there for me at many events, just to support me. Of course, he was there and cheered me on.
I will always remember the time I was on the Community Conversation on the deaf community panel at the University of Oregon. It was my first time on a panel and I was freaking out because he wasn’t there yet. I was counting on him to be there. A few minutes before the panel started, I saw him walk through the door; I felt so relieved to have my dad there with me. I ran over to him and hugged him. I remember he said, “I’m here. Don’t worry, honey. You will do great. I’m so proud of you.”
I will always remember the trips that my dad took with my little brother, Jack, and me. He could drive for hours and hours. I don’t know how he could do it but he really did enjoy being in the car with me and Jack. My dad and Jack would constantly talk about music. I would be in the back of the car, reading books. All those trips we took, we had so much fun. We would complain about going back home because we were having so much fun.
One of those trip, we were in Los Angeles and visited my dream university. That morning, it took me an hour to get ready. My dad complained, “Why does it take you an hour to get ready?!”
I thought about it and said, “Hmm ... Daddy, that’s how long I usually get ready in the morning … And that’s what you get for having a daughter like me.”
He smiled and said, “You are the best daughter in the world.”