William L. Daugherty

NO. 17728  •  28 July 1928 – 6 September 2001

Died in Auburn, CA
Cremated and inurned in Presidio of San Francisco National Cemetery, San Francisco, CA


William Lester Daugherty was born in Duluth, MN, where his father, a captain in the Field Artillery, was stationed. His father's career saw the family move to Illinois, Washington State, and Hawaii, where they were stationed at Schofield Barracks in the 1930s. While Bill's father served in the Pacific Theatre during WWII, the family took up residence in the charming city of Santa Barbara, CA. The home they made there is the place his father retired as a brigadier general and then gardened extensively for more than 40 years. That home has remained in the family, with Bill's son, William, now owning the home to bring up Bill's grandchildren.

Bill graduated from Santa Barbara High School and entered the U.S. Military Academy in July 1946. He reported weekly to his parents in Santa Barbara of how he respected his teachers and the quality of the education he was receiving at the Academy as a member of C‑ 1 Company. He made many lifelong friends while at the Academy and was an enthusiastic member of the varsity wrestling team for two years (which changed the shape of his nose), and an active member of the Camera Club for three years. Bill graduated from West Point on 6 Jun 1950, a day whose passing he would remark on each year.

After one tour in Alaska, where he learned to cross-country ski, a sport he enjoyed the rest of his life, he married Lu Ann Muehl, a lovely and charming flight attendant that he had met shortly before graduating from USMA. They were married at the Presidio Chapel in San Francisco on 11 Apr 1953 with Al Fern, a classmate, serving as best man. This long and happy marriage produced four children: Ann in 1954; Patricia in 1958; and the twins Barbara Sharon and William Matthew in 1959. His children were a great source of pride to him, and he was a devoted father and husband.

Bill enjoyed his career as a Field Artilleryman with assignments in Ft. Sill, Ft. Huachucha, and two tours in Korea. He attended the University of Arizona at Tucson during 1961‑63, where he earned a masters of science degree in aerospace engineering. On graduation, he was awarded membership in Sigma Xi Honorary Society, an organization promoting scientific research. Bill then attended CGSC at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, after which he was a research associate at what is now known as Lawrence Livermore Labs.

In 1966, Bill was assigned to be the executive officer of the 4th U.S. Missile Command in Korea and, later, commanded the 1st Battalion, 42 Artillery. He returned in April 1968 to his family in Livermore, CA, to join the Livermore Division, Research and Development Liaison Directorate, Field Command, Defense Atomic Support Agency. In July 1968, he assumed duties as chief of the Weapons Branch, where he made major contributions to the strength and reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.

LTC William L. Daugherty retired from active duty in 1970, after 20 years of honorable and distinguished service. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

In his civilian life, Bill spent seven years with Stanford Research International (SRI) in Menlo Park, CA, where his duties included research for the U.S. Government concerning nuclear energy and technology. He was a private consultant to a number of high technology firms in the area and contributed to a major program assisting developing countries in planning expansions of their domestic energy bases. Additionally, he worked with Quadrex Corporation in Campbell, CA, working on the nuclear segment of the electric power generation industry for two years.

Bill was a perennial student, ever‑seeking intellectual challenges and opportunities to add to his already considerable knowledge base. He earned a second master's in business administration from Santa Clara University while working at SRI and, in 1991, was awarded his Juris Doctor. He took the California Bar, one of the most difficult in the U.S., on his 63rd birthday, and passed the first time. In the Forty‑Fifty class reunion yearbook, his sense of humor was evidenced when he wrote that he viewed the law business as a "close race between my few remaining neurons and the examiner of the California Bar." Bill had a law practice in Auburn, CA, until December 1999.

While not a smoker, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 1999. He fought a courageous battle, and beat the odds with his survival time. The support from his family and many West Point friends was unstinting. On one of his last nights on earth, Bill beamed with pride as he was surrounded by his loving family, including all seven grandchildren, as they sang the songs they had all enjoyed while camping together in earlier years. Bill died at home and was buried alongside his mother Anna Sandstrom Daugherty at the Presidio in San Francisco National Cemetery, in a gravesite reserved by his father in 1931.

In all things he was a mentor and above all, he set a good example to his children, based upon his high principles, ideals, strength of character, and great personal integrity. He was a true friend and an honest man. He epitomized the ideals of the soldier he was trained to be at the Academy.

The West Point "Alma Mater" says: "And when our work is done, our course on earth is run, may it be said: 'Well Done, be thou at peace. ' "

Well done, William L. Daugherty!  Be thou at peace.