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Dennis Dougherty, Denver businessman and philanthropist, loses cancer battle

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Dennis Dougherty, Denver businessman and philanthropist lost his courageous battle with cancer on Friday, February 14th 2014.

Born and raised in Omaha Nebraska, Dennis served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. Dennis’s service stands as a testament to his character, as he never denied who he was; even in a time in which being openly gay was not just uncommon, but was also dangerous. His courage in always remaining true to himself is unparalleled.

The founder and longtime CEO of Denver based company Visual Electronics, LTD., Dougherty guided his company to multi-million dollar success, all the while keeping rooted in the community in which he lived. His efforts led to numerous awards and accolades, including the 2006 Equality in Business Award from The Human Rights Campaign, and a Personal Explanation that was entered into the Congressional Record by Senator Mark Udall before the U.S. Senate in November 2003.

“Coloradoans are proud of Dennis Dougherty and contribution he and his company have made to our state,” said Senator Udall. “(He is) a valuable member of our business community and I am proud to recognize him here today.”

One of Dennis’ proudest accomplishments was his longtime association with Judy and Dennis Shepard, the parents of slain Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. The friendship began at the funeral service held shortly after Matthew’s death, and was an auspicious beginning to say the least, as Judy outlined in her book, “The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed.”

“A middle-aged man, I’d never seen before introduced himself and hand me what appeared to be a business card,” Judy writes. “At the time I thought, ‘A business card? Really?’ I couldn’t begin to imagine what kind of business he was hoping to conduct with me, but it seemed pretty clear he was hoping to capitalize on my family’s pain. Later that night I took the business card out of my purse and took a closer look at it. It identified the man as Dennis Dougherty, a Denver resident and member of the Washington D.C.-based HRC. On the back of the card he’d scrawled a note: ‘My mother and I have just donated ten thousand dollars to HRC in Matthew’s name.’”

Thus began a longtime relationship that still continues to this day. Through Dennis’ “simple gestures,” lives were forever changed. Through his generosity those without a voice were given a voice. Those who had no champion suddenly had one. Even though his mortal voice has been silenced, his legacy of good works will live on. He will be missed.

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