Archived Story

Retirement ‘just a word’ for Franklin man

Published 10:20am Friday, September 6, 2013

FRANKLIN—If people can be said to have a theme running through their lives, then work is one that best describes Phillip Yates “Buddy” Doughtie.

Phillip Y. Doughtie, who has lived in Franklin since 1977, said he's always enjoyed every career or job he's ever done. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES | TIDEWATER NEWS
Phillip Y. Doughtie, who has lived in Franklin since 1977, said he’s always enjoyed every career or job he’s ever done. — STEPHEN H. COWLES | TIDEWATER NEWS

From the time he was a child to his retirement, Doughtie has never lacked for either a job or a career. Even now, the Suffolk native/long-time Franklin resident finds ways to keep moving.

Although his landscaping business, for example, has only one customer – “I’ve slowed down to a crawl” – Doughtie enjoys maintaining the friend’s yard.

“I’ve loved all my jobs and I’ve had many,” he said. “I’ve kept active, pretty active.”

All that seems to have paid off for him, because Doughtie will celebrate his 82nd birthday this Sunday with loved ones and friends at High Street United Methodist Church in Franklin.

Necessity first required Doughtie to get a job delivering newspapers, namely The Suffolk News-Herald and The Virginian-Pilot. He remembered the late Ira “Spike” Moore, one of the numerous editors, as well Earl Jones, still working as an advertising representative.

“My father, Richard Thomas, died when I was 9. I had to work,” Doughtie said, recalling that the man owned five grocery stores, two of which were on West Washington Street, a third in Nurneysville and a fourth in Carrsville.

“I think I was born at home,” he first said with a slight hesitation. Then remembering it to be so, he added his parents gave him the middle name from the doctor who delivered Doughtie into the world on Carolina Avenue.

He left home at age 14 when his mother, Nora Maie Pierce, remarried and the man turned out to be an alcoholic. Doughtie first lived with his older sister and her own family for two months; afterward he went to his older brother’s home and stayed there until graduating from Suffolk High School in 1951. (“I was voted ‘Best Personality.’”) All the while he continued to deliver papers, sometimes using a bicycle or motor scooter. Time was also made for sports along with his studies.

In February 1952, Doughtie joined the Air Force, and he stayed until retiring in 1972 as a tech sergeant. He explained the position made him responsible for administration and security.

That first career also took him and later his family to various parts of the world and the country, specifically Bermuda, Langley AFB, and the Philippines, where he was in charge of security for all packages that came onto aircraft.

“I was there in Alabama when they had the march on Selma,” Doughtie said. “They went right by our base – we were not allowed out – I was just watching them go by. He [Martin Luther King Jr.] was a good man.”

His next job was recruiting services was his next work for the service in Washington, D.C., followed by brief tours in South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, back to the Philippines and finally his last three years stationed again at Langley.

“Retirement is a word. If you want to keep on living, you keep working,” said Doughtie.

He returned to Suffolk and became a restaurateur, opening the Suburban Restaurant, which was in the area of the former Western Tidewater Health Clinic and Pruden Hams on North Main Street. Two strip malls now occupy those places.

That venture lasted three years, and then Doughtie worked in insurance for 14 years, which is what brought him to Franklin in the mid-1970s. Following a second retirement in 1990, he’s gone to being self-employed in tree service, hospital security, working at the country club, and driving a school bus for Southampton Academy before the aforementioned one-man landscaping business.

In the decades that Doughtie has made Franklin his home, he’s also been active at his church, such as being in the choir (“I still sing.”), and extends his musicality to performing on his guitar for a few women’s clubs from time to time, he said.

Another venue for his talent was the Little Theater of Franklin from 1976 to 1983. In his distinctive bass voice, Doughtie ticks off “Oklahoma!” “Lil’ Abner,” “Fiddler On the Roof,” “Barnum,” “South Pacific,” “Annie” and “Jesse James.”

“I have slowed down a little because I want to,” he said in describing recent years. Those have been particularly fulfilling for him because of his “bride,” as he likes to call his wife, Debbie.

Together for a little more than six years, they met on match.com, of all places.

Her hair was one of the physical features that impressed him most in the picture she provided. More importantly, though, they eventually realized how good they are together.

“We just hit it off really nice,” Doughtie said. “We get along very well.”

NAME: Phillip Yates Doughtie

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: I was living in Suffolk in 1976, but working for an insurance company that had its staff in Franklin, so I moved here in 1977.

OCCUPATION: Retired, but also doing some landscaping.

MARITAL STATUS: Married to Debbie Doughtie for six-plus years.

CHILDREN: Six children, three boys and three girls, all local; 11 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren with two more on the way; and two stepdaughters.

FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: We actually like a day on the town. We’ll go over to Duck Inn or drive over to our favorite restaurant, Surrey House, in Surry County.

FAVORITE MEAL: Fried chicken and vegetables.

WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I know a lot of people, but I keep very much to myself.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOU: I’m very dependable and enjoy working.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: I really don’t think I have any bad habits.

PETS: None. I did have a wonderful golden retriever, Flash, who recently died.

FAVORITE HOBBIES: We take a ride every day, and do bird-watching twice a day

PET PEEVE: People who don’t work, but can.

FIRST JOB: Delivering newspapers, The Suffolk News-Herald and The Virginian-Pilot.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As a very generous and kind man, and available to those in need.

IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: I’d like to speak to the entire Congress. Congress is not getting along and it’s noticeable by the country. There’s a lack of cooperation between the two parties and this is one country.

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