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About the Institute

June 18, 2020

IN MEMORIAM: Gerard Doherty (1928-2020)

By Tara Rendon

One of the best parts of my job as alumni relations manager at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute is being able to communicate and work with hundreds of former Kennedy staff who were part of his U.S. Senate office or campaigns.

Among them, one of the most special Kennedy alumni I had the privilege to get to know was a talented campaign strategist, Mr. Gerard Doherty. Sadly, Mr. Doherty passed away this week at the age of 92 years old. He was a colorful and unique person who will be sorely missed.

Having the occasional lunch with Mr. Doherty was always a wonderful experience and the chance to do so at the historic Omni Parker House, where he dined frequently, was an added benefit. Mr. Doherty was humble, very funny, and extremely interesting. I learned so much about him during our long lunch discussions. I was unaware he had suffered from tuberculosis in his younger years and was quarantined in a very different way than we are presently doing. He was sent to a camp in northern New York where he endured his illness in isolation. It would be tough to survive that type of situation even now. He had a strong will.

Mr. Doherty worked for all three Kennedy brothers: President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He had a natural political instinct and understood grassroots politics. And, most of all, he was extremely loyal. The Kennedy brothers saw that and admired that in him. They trusted him and his advice. He was a fantastic storyteller! And, boy, did he have a lot of great stories from his years of campaigning and working for the greater good. He cared about people regardless of their standing in life and, through his many connections, took pride in helping people.

These are not just difficult times we are living through right now. They are often sad times, too. We are losing members of the Greatest Generation like Mr. Doherty. They can never be replaced. They had a commitment to this country, a love of family and friends, that was a result of close-knit neighborhoods and a lack of distracting and isolating technology and an unparalleled pride in country for which they put their lives on the line. They lived through so many challenges and overcame them.

Mr. Doherty embodied all of those traits and more. For everyone who knew him and whose lives he touched, we are forever grateful for having known him.

Mr. Doherty, rest in peace knowing all you have done for so many people and the role you played in the democracy of this great country of ours. You made a difference.

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, civic education organization in Boston envisioned by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Through a range of exhibits, interactive educational offerings, and topical programs, the Institute engages students and visitors in a conversation about the essential role each person plays in our democracy and in our society.