Bernard Joseph Doherty, former stockbroker, Massachusetts Boxing Commissioner and Irish-American of legendary toughness and charisma, died April 11th, 2020 at the age of 83. He leaves behind his son, Greg Doherty, of Kensington, California; his daughter, Kate Quigley of Marblehead, Mass; five grandchildren; his brothers Tony and John and their families; and a number of nieces and nephews whom he loved, along with their children. His son Glen, a former Navy SEAL, preceded him in death in 2012.
Ben was the third child of five born in Boston, Massachusetts to Anthony and Margaret Doherty of Donegal, Ireland. The family kept a large chicken farm in Billerica that taught Ben a strong work ethic at an early age. As the first from his family to attend college, at UMass Amherst, Ben became a great believer in the opportunities provided by education. This would guide his extensive service on the UMass Board of Trustees, as the director of the UMass Business School, and as President of the UMass Building Association. He also gave back to his alma mater Billerica High school by organizing an annual charity boxing fundraiser and was twice invited to be the graduating class’ commencement speaker.
Ben was an important member of the boxing community, first as a Silver Mittens, Golden Gloves and All-Army boxing champion and 1960 Olympic trials competitor, then as a fight trainer, Chairman of the Boxer’s Fund Board, and, ultimately, Massachusetts Athletic Commissioner. A great proponent of “the sweet science” and a fearless fighter in and out of the ring, he had the flattened nose yet high profile that made him, for many in Massachusetts, the face of boxing.
Above all, he was a fun-loving person. A long-time resident of Winchester, where he had three children with then-wife Barbara, he seemed to live for ski trips to Loon Mountain or out west; water-skiing trips on his small speedboat; attending Celtics games, Red Sox games and boxing matches; and in general just getting out of the house to be among others having fun. He coached soccer to innumerable Winchester youth for the decade that his children played. He loved holidays, dressing in costume every Halloween, wearing an all-green suit and leprechaun shoes each St. Patrick’s Day, and playing a very jolly Santa at the neighborhood holiday party. A proud Irishman and father, he checked off a major bucket list item when he took all three of his children to Ireland in 2004.
Among his peers, Ben was known for organizing parties and events, often for good causes. A successful stockbroker–the top producer for five different firms over thirty-four years–who never forgot his roots, he was equally comfortable and welcome among all classes of people. He regularly combined the social and athletic, forging many lasting friendships on tennis courts and the golf links. An unapologetic lover of the spotlight, he gravitated towards microphones and dance floors, where he had abundant skills but was more than willing to play the fool. A photograph in the Boston Herald of him wildly dancing at a wharf party he’d crashed once blew his alibi for missing an afternoon’s work.
In his later years, he resettled in the North End of Boston in semi-retirement as a financial consultant. He wrote a monthly financial newspaper column for the Italian-American Post-Gazette, joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston, explored local restaurants, and kept his faith as a Catholic, rarely missing Sunday mass.
In March of 2020, after a period of declining health, the Covid-19 virus rang the bell that ended the fighter’s final round.
He would want the last words about him to be an Irish blessing, so, Ben:
May your left break the devil’s jaw
and your right hold a bottomless drink,
and may you dance with Irish angels in heaven
as God gives your mischief a wink.
Services will be held at a later date due to Covid-19 precautions.