EveryStep Hospice Team in Mount Ayr Honors Army Veteran Robert Dougherty

U.S. Army Veteran Robert Dougherty

Pictured above (L-R): EveryStep Veteran-to-Veteran volunteers Virgil Ebrecht (Army, Desert Storm and Iraq); Gary O’Daniels (Army, Vietnam); Dennis Abel (Army, Vietnam) with Robert Dougherty (Army).

The EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Ayr honored 87-year-old Army veteran Robert “Bob” Dougherty with a “pinning” ceremony held April 9, 2024, at Bedford Specialty Care in Bedford.

Bob grew up in Bedford and after graduating from college in 1960, was offered a teaching position. “He was going to teach and coach,” says his wife of 61 years, Suzanne. “He went home after interviewing and being offered the job and there was a letter in the mail that he was drafted.”

Serving in the Army during peacetime from 1960 to 1962, Bob continued in the Army Reserve until 1966. While he was in the Army, Bob played and coached football at Fort Gordon (now called Fort Eisenhower) and his team won the Signal Corps championship. He also coached and played baseball at Fort Gordon and sometimes traveled to play other teams.

When Bob finished his service stateside as an Army clerk typist in 1962, he took a teaching position at Murray, Iowa where he met Suzanne, a fellow teacher. They married in 1963.

Bob spent decades as a teacher and coach in Iowa, including eight years at Bridgewater-Fontanelle and 29 years at Dunlap High School (now known as Boyer Valley High School), from which he retired. “He coached a little bit of everything,” says Suzanne. “He coached basketball most of the time, but always baseball.” Bob was inducted into the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2000.

Three of Bob’s brothers were also teachers and coached high school sports in Iowa. Bob and Suzanne have three children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Their oldest son was a high school principal and coach, and two of his sons also teach and coach in Iowa, another son is a teacher and coach in Missouri, and his daughter teaches special education in Nebraska.

Suzanne says the pinning ceremony organized by the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Ayr was much more than she and her husband expected. “I thought it would just be a plaque or something, but it was so much!” says Suzanne. “What was really surprising to me was the quilt — it’s a beautiful quilt.” The quilt Bob received was donated by the quilters at Trinity Christian Church in Leon.

EveryStep’s veteran pinning ceremonies provide honor, dignity and recognition to veterans at the end of their lives. Family members and friends are often on hand with EveryStep staff and volunteers during the celebratory events, which include the Pledge of Allegiance, the awarding of a veteran service flag pin, the singing of “God Bless America,” a reading of "What is a Veteran," and the presentation of a certificate of recognition.

EveryStep is a nonprofit health care organization and a Level 4 partner in the nationally recognized We Honor Veterans initiative. Through its hospice program, EveryStep offers several specialized services for veterans. EveryStep’s Veteran-to-Veteran program is a special service pairing veterans who are volunteers with hospice patients who have served our country. A specialized Veteran-to-Veteran volunteer can provide companionship while talking, reading and sitting with patients. Veterans bring a unique skill set to help patients find peace at the end of life.

To learn about volunteering opportunities across the 35 counties and many communities served by EveryStep Hospice, please visit www.everystep.org/volunteer/get-started. If you or someone you know needs care or support, complete the confidential "Find Care" form at www.everystep.org/find-care. The form sends a message to EveryStep staff who then follow up with a phone call. It's a wonderful way to start a conversation and get answers with no cost or commitment. EveryStep can connect the individual to its own programs and services that may be helpful, as well as services offered by other organizations and providers in the community.

If you are a veteran interested in volunteering your time to visit hospice patients, learn more or complete a volunteer application at www.everystep.org/volunteer.