In East Hampton, residents knew Frazer Dougherty as the charismatic and dogged force behind the founding of Local TV, the town’s nonprofit public access television station, which began broadcasting out of his garage in the early 1980s and has since documented all aspects of Bonacker life, from the schools and the government to fishing and the arts, and much, much more.
But decades before that, Mr. Dougherty was a B-25 pilot who flew 63 missions with the 345th Bomber Group, 498th Squadron, in New Guinea during World War II, and was a test pilot for the Airphibian, the only automobile airplane to gain Civil Aeronautics Authority approval, his family wrote. Flying airplanes had been “a childhood dream”; by the time Pearl Harbor was attacked, with 27 months of military training under his belt, “he leaped at the opportunity to join the Army Air Corps,” his family wrote.
In his elder years he became “an intrepid sailor, superb photographer, and later, a prolific silkscreen artist.”
Mr. Dougherty died on Aug. 29 at home in Aventura, Fla., where he had been living since 2009, after “a long and illustrious life,” his family said. He was 101.
Frazer Lowber Welsh Dougherty was born at home in Wyncote, Pa., on June 16, 1922, the youngest of four children of Graham Dougherty and the former Maria Frazer. At 10 years old, the family moved to Berryville in Clarke County, Va. He attended the Gilman School in Baltimore, where he played varsity football. Instead of attending Dartmouth on a sports scholarship, with the outbreak of war in Europe, he began military training in the Army infantry, under pressure from his father, his family said. Later, he joined the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry before enrolling with the Army Air Corps.
In March 1943, Mr. Dougherty married Page Caroline Huidekoper in Millwood, Va. The couple had four children before divorcing. Mr. Dougherty married Frances Ann Cannon Hersey in 1963 and went to work for the industrial design firms of George Nelson and Robert Gerson. For a few years he operated an air taxi service, Flotair, to Fire Island and the Hamptons.
The Doughertys spent the 1970s sailing the Aegean Sea around Greece before settling in East Hampton.
LTV’s founders, who in addition to Mr. Dougherty were Marty Katz and Jill Keefe, “made a great team,” Mr. Katz recalled this week. “We were able to work with the legal, technical, financial issues and move forward in building LTV. In the earliest days, we basically used duct tape and whatever we could to put everything together.”
Mr. Dougherty hosted his own original show, called “Hello! Hello!” — which continues to this day with a new host.
“He was a good man. . . . He bent over backwards to put together the studio,” Mr. Katz said. “We had an absolutely wonderful time getting everything under way. Between Jill, myself, and Frazer, it was a really wonderful operation — lots of fun, and a dream come true for all of us.”
Ms. Dougherty, who was a founder of the National Repertory Theater, brought her considerable Rolodex of influential friends and theater colleagues and began to fund-raise for the resources to grow the organization.
“The idea that anybody could walk in, take a course, and make a television show that could be shown in the community was a novelty of extraordinary appeal. Frazer was the heart and soul of that,” said Genie Henderson, LTV’s longtime archivist and one of its original producers. “He had the energy. All he could talk about, all he could see, was that this public access station needed to succeed. And it took a long time, but it did. . . . I think that this community owes Frazer enormous gratitude.”
Today, in addition to carrying out its contractual duties of broadcasting government and school meetings, LTV has five studios for television and audio production; hosts art exhibitions and cultural events, and serves as an accessible performance space for both well-known and emerging arts groups from local communities and beyond.
“Several decades ago, Frazer had a vision of having a community TV station that was ‘by the people and for the people.’ He worked very hard to make that happen,” said Michael Clark, LTV’s current executive director. “It is our job now to make sure his vision continues and stays alive. All of us at LTV are committed to that.”
Ms. Dougherty died in 2001. Five years later, Mr. Dougherty married Eleanor Sage Leonard and moved to the Miami area. She died in 2011. Until shortly before his 101st birthday, Mr. Dougherty lived independently, driving his car to his studio and cooking his soft-boiled eggs daily. He had lately been advocating for a film or television program to be produced in honor of Eleanor Roosevelt.
With his camera, Mr. Dougherty documented the March on Washington 60 years ago and the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. According to his family, the day that Barack Obama was elected president “was the most important day of his life.”
“He was an ebullient and elegant man, known for his open-mindedness and his curiosity as well as his imagination,” his family wrote.
Surviving Mr. Dougherty are his four children, Frazer P. Dougherty of Redmond, Wash., Rush Dougherty of Tucson, Ariel Dougherty of Truth or Consequences, N.M., and Page Delano of City Island, N.Y., and five stepchildren, Martin Hersey of Chestertown, Md., Ann Hersey of Lincolnville, Me., Baird Hersey of Woodstock, N.Y., and Jay Leonard and Elyse Fried, both of Miami. A stepson, John Hersey Jr., died in 2018. He also leaves 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will take place Sunday at noon at the Beth David Memorial Gardens and Levitt Weinstein Jewish Funeral Home and Cemetery in Hollywood, Fla. A separate celebration of his life will be planned by his children as well. His family has suggested memorial donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center, online at splcenter.org, or the American Civil Liberties Union at aclu.org.