The Rev. Dr. George M. Docherty Internationally renowned preacher Noted for "Under God" in Pledge of Allegiance May 9, 1911 - November 27, 2008 The Rev. Dr. George Macpherson Docherty, D.D., D. Litt., 97, of Alexandria, died at his home on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, 2008, surrounded by his loving and devoted family. Born May 9, 1911, in Glasgow, Scotland, he was the son of the late Thomas Norton and Jean (Macpherson) Docherty. His first wife, Mary Shirlaw Watson, preceded him in death in October 1970. He then married Sue (Stetchock) Hollingshead, a native of Cassville, on June 3, 1972. Surviving are his wife, at their home; three children, Garth and his wife, Anne, of Alexandria, Va.,Julie and her husband, James Jancosko, of Miami, Fla., and Bridget and her husband, Andrew Fouse, of Alexandria; and five grandchildren, Ellie Gate Jarvie and her husband, Alistair, Sarah Gate, Emily Gate and Mhairi Gate, all of Scotland, and Lindsay Docherty, of San Francisco. Preceding him in death were a brother, Jack Docherty; and two children, Mairi (Docherty) Gate and David William Docherty. Although a native of Scotland, Dr. Docherty immigrated to the United States in 1950 and proudly became a U. S. citizen in 1960. He received his M.A. and B. D. degrees from Glasgow University and his Doctor of Divinity degree from Temple University and Monmouth College. Throughout his life, education played an important role, both as student and as teacher, in Dr. Docherty's life. Dr. Docherty was called in 1950 to succeed another Scotsman, the late Rev. Dr. Peter Marshall, as minister of The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., "Lincoln's Church," from which he retired in August 1976. At The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (NYAPC), Dr. Docherty is remembered as a vigorous preacher and inspirational leader of the congregation through a period of great social change. With his associate minister, the Rev. Dr. Jack McClendon, he and his wife, Mary, were deeply involved in the civil rights movement and marches at Selma, Ala., with their friend, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Docherty was also prominent among those clergy who opposed the war in Vietnam. It was while serving at the Washington church that Dr. Docherty made a huge contribution to his adopted country, one that has affected all Americans since 1954: the insertion of the phrase "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance. On Feb. 7, 1954, Dr. Docherty preached a sermon to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was visiting his congregation. The sermon received such praise from the president and national press coverage that Congress moved to include the words "under God" in the pledge, which was officially included on Flag Day, June 14, 1954. After retiring from NYAPC in 1976, Dr. Docherty and his family moved to St. Andrews, Scotland for 13 years before returning to the U.S. in 1989, where he was active in the Huntingdon Presbyterian Church. Dr. Docherty was involved in numerous literary pursuits, including his autobiography, "I've Seen the Day." He was a violinist and a fine golfer. Dr. Docherty felt at home on two continents, but as he wrote: "And if I know who I am, and what my part has been, the stage on which I have played, it has been the Church." Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, and following the funeral, at Huntingdon Presbyterian Church, Fifth and Mifflin streets, Huntingdon. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008, at the church, with Dr. Stanley Bhasker, Dr. Theodore Kiffer, and Dr. Jack McClendon officiating. Interment will be private, at St. Michael's Orthodox Church Cemetery, Wood. A memorial service will be held at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008, at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be given to Huntingdon Presbyterian Church, 508 Mifflin St., Huntingdon, PA 16652; Home Nursing Agency Huntingdon Hospice, 900 Bryan St., Huntingdon, PA 16652; or the Docherty Center for Congregational Life, The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20005-4790. Arrangements are under the direction of John B. Brown Funeral Home, Huntingdon.
Published in Centre Daily Times on Nov. 30, 2008.