J. Henry Doscher, Jr. '42

Henry Doscher, known as Hank to his friends at Amherst, died in Abilene, Texas, on October 3, 2008, after a long illness.  He was born Jan. 5, 1921, in Houston and grew up in Sweetwater, Texas, before coming to Amherst in 1938.

At Amherst, he was a member of Phi Gam; on the Hurricane Hop Committee; on the prom committee sophomore, junior, and senior years; and on the planning committee all four years.  He also participated in freshman soccer.

Immediately after graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy and was commissioned as ensign in November 1942.  After further training at the Subchaser Training Center in Miami, he served extensively on ships in the Pacific, beginning at Guadalcanal in April ’43 and ending as part of the occupation force in Japan in late ’45 and early ’46.  He was released from active duty in April 1946 but remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve, retiring as a captain in 1970.

In June of ’46, Henry entered the Texas Univ. law school, receiving a doctor of jurisprudence degree in August 1948.  He then served as briefing attorney to the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court for more than a year before practicing law in Abilene, Texas, for 35 years.

After retiring from the active practice of the law, Henry taught legal subjects at McMurry Univ. until 1997.  Over the years, he also somehow found time for numerous business and civic activities, serving as a director of several businesses and as a trustee of several Abilene cultural activities.  In addition, he obtained a M.A. degree in history from Hardin-Simmons Univ. in 1973.  Henry was a long-time member of the Texas Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the Abilene Bar Association, of which he was president from 1970-1971.

Henry’s main hobbies were traveling and bridge.  He became a Life Master in bridge in 1970 and played in national and regional tournaments in the U.S. and Mexico.  After retiring from his law practice, he also indulged an interest in writing.  Harking back to his days in the Pacific during World War II, he wrote two books, Subchaser in the South Pacific and Little Wolf at Leyte.

One of Henry’s former law partners described him as precise, cautious and “client sensitive,” while an associate from McMurry Univ. said, “He was a consummate gentleman . . . one of the finest individuals I have known.”  Henry, who never married, made Amherst his principal beneficiary, establishing an irrevocable trust in 1995 to benefit the College and including Amherst in his will.  He was also a Johnson Chapel Associate and a Pooled Income Fund donor.

—Ted Heisler ’42