Nancy Decker Dougherty, wife of town supervisor, dies

Author Nancy Decker Dougherty, a film critic who

Author Nancy Decker Dougherty, a film critic who wrote biographies and in 1987 and won the Pen Girard Award for the best non-fiction work by a previiously unpublished author, died at her home on Shelter Island after a 13-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. (Credit: Handout)

Nancy Decker Dougherty, a film critic who wrote biographies and was awarded for her nonfiction work, died Wednesday at her home on Shelter Island after a 13-year battle with Alzheimer's disease.

"I lost my dear friend. . . . She is at peace," her husband, Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Dougherty, said this week.

Born in Columbia, Mo., Dougherty, 73, was a Phi Beta Kappa at Radcliffe, and after graduation was chosen by the school to tour the country for a year talking to high school girls about the experience. Another student, Lucy Tuchman, the daughter of author Barbara Tuchman, went with her.


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Dougherty earned her master's degree and PhD at the University of California at Berkeley, and moved to New York in 1971, when she married Dougherty. They lived in Manhattan, and she was co-chair of the literary committee of the National Arts Club.

She and her husband bought the John Tuttle House on Shelter Island in 1976 and used it as a summer home until they moved there permanently in 2001. Her husband, 77, has been supervisor since 2008.

Their home on Tuttle Hill was built in 1852 and was in the hands of the Tuttle family for a century.

As an active Shelter Island resident, she was involved with local literary groups and environmental preservation, and for years was on the board of trustees of the Mashomack Preserve, the nature preserve on the South Shore that makes up about a third of Shelter Island.

Besides her husband, she is survived by a brother, Jack Decker, of Hawaii, two nieces, and her four caregivers of the last seven years.

A private funeral is planned, and a memorial celebration of her life will be held in late June, near the time of her birthday.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, N.H., where she was a writer in residence, to the Mashomack Preserve or to the Alzheimer's Foundation.

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