MT. LEBANON, Pa. — Robert Wesley Doherty, of Mt. Lebanon, Pa., and Honor, passed away peacefully Feb. 5, 2013. He was 77.
Bob was born in Detroit in 1935 and spent nearly every summer of his life in northern Michigan. Over the years he developed a deep connection to the land and people in northern Michigan; this bond shaped both his career and his personal life.
Bob earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Denison University in 1957 and his Master of Arts degree and Ph.D. in history at the University of Pennsylvania between 1958 and 1962. He followed this training with a long career as a university professor founded in a desire to share his love of people and history with others through his teaching and writing.
Bob began teaching university courses in 1959 at the age of 23. He taught at Widener College, Swarthmore College, Douglass College of Rutgers University, University of Massachusetts and finally the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a beloved history professor for 45 years from 1968 to 2013.
Bob started his academic career with an interest in United States religious history. After 1975 he primarily taught Native American history, environmental history and environmental politics, along with a variety of other courses involving the recent history of the United States (such as Intellectual History, Sports in American Society, The Role of Rivers in American Development).
Bob was a widely published and recognized historian. He authored four books: Not First in Nobody’s Heart (co-authored with Ron Paquin); Disputed Waters: Native American Fishing Rights in the Great Lakes; Society and Power: A Comparative Study of Five Towns in Massachusetts, 1800-1860; and The Hicksite Separation: A Sociological Analysis of Religion in Early 19th Century America. Bob also published numerous articles in academic journals and was awarded grants and fellowships from organizations such as the American Philosophical Society, Bureau of Indian Affairs and National Endowment for the Humanities.
Bob’s colleagues, friends and family remember him for possessing a strong sense of fairness and justice that was prevalent in the classroom and beyond. Indeed, Bob volunteered for many public service activities such as serving as an Advisor/Consultant to the Grand Traverse Band of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, and providing expert witness testimony in legal cases involving Great Lakes Indian treaty rights.
When he wasn’t in the classroom, Bob pursued his passion for the outdoors by exploring the woods, lakes and rivers of northern Michigan and other wild places. In addition to hiking and canoeing throughout Michigan and New England, Bob enjoyed fishing in Michigan and Ontario, Canada. He was also an avid sailor, captaining a Sunfish sailboat many windy afternoons.
Most importantly, Bob was a valued friend, a supportive brother, a devoted and caring father and a fun-loving grandfather.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Ken and Lucile Doherty.
Bob is survived by his brother, Lynn Doherty; his sons, Robert G. Doherty and Ian Doherty; his daughter, Kathryn Doherty; and his granddaughters, Elizabeth Doherty and Sage Goodwin. He is already greatly missed by all.
Friends are welcome to attend a celebration of Bob’s life on March 8 at a remembrance held at Heinz Chapel in Oakland, Pa., from 1:30 to 3 p.m., and a gathering afterward from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the University Club, 123 University Place, Oakland, PA.
Memorial contributions are welcome on Bob’s behalf to the Benzie County Community Chest, PO Box 713, Beulah, MI 49617 (www.benziecommunitychest.org).
Please share fond memories and condolences at www.post-gazette.com/gb.
Arrangements are entrusted to William Slater II Funeral Service; (412) 563-2800.