PARKERSBURG -The Parkersburg High School athletic family has lost its most vocal supporter.
Steve Daugherty, the long-time radio voice of Big Red athletics, died Sunday morning in a Morgantown hospital at the age of 56 following surgery for a brain aneurysm.
Friends remembered Daugherty for his extreme dedication to PHS athletics.
"Steve was more than a radio announcer," said Bernie Buttrey, the head coach of the Big Reds football team since 2002. "He was more like a coach. He was a friend to all the players. He always knew what was going on in the locker room and in the coaches office."
Buttrey said Daugherty didn't hesitate to tell him - or for that matter, his listeners - what he thought.
"Steve didn't hide his emotions on the radio and he wasn't afraid to express his opinions," Buttrey said. "I don't know how many times he's offered me advice."
Buttrey said his players will wear decals on their helmets the rest of the season bearing Daugherty's initials. They also will wear black wrist bands in his honor.
Daugherty's final broadcast of a PHS sports event was the football season opener against Brooke on Aug. 28. The following Monday, he went to a local hospital complaining of a severe headache and eventually was life-flighted to Morgantown.
"Steve and I go back a long way," said former PHS athletics director Mike Hayden. "I was his teacher during the 1968-69 school year and we have been friends ever since."
Hayden recalls when Daugherty returned to Parkersburg during the 1990s and wanted more than anything else to become the voice of the Big Reds.
"He took it over, ran with it and the rest is history," said Hayden. "He took it to a level you want people to take broadcasting local high school sports. He became part of the Big Red family."
He did that by always being there.
"Steve didn't just show up on Friday to broadcast a game," Hayden said. "He was around the coaches and players all the time. He got to know them personally. It made his broadcast better. He was so much a part of the PHS fabric. He cared. That was evident."
Long-time PHS assistant football coach Mark McCullough attended junior high and high school with Daugherty.
"Even back in those days, you knew exactly where you stood with Steve," he aid.
McCullough said Daugherty may have indirectly been the biggest influence in the drive to put artificial surface at Stadium Field.
He recalled that during a playoff game in 1995, one vocal Hedgesville fan sitting within earshot of Daugherty's perch in the pressbox commented loudly this was supposed to be a AAA field. Daugherty threw down his headset and was ready to go tell the fan a thing or two. Instead, he turned his energy to the fundraising drive to install artificial turf.
If any sports program was taking place in Parkersburg, Daugherty automatically was selected to serve as the master of ceremonies.
In addition to doing Parkersburg High School athletic banquets, he also served as the emcee for the statewide Victory Awards Dinners and the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame, an organization that claims him as one of its founders.
"If there was anything going on, he was there," McCullough said. "He was always there to support the kids. He was special."
Daugherty's trademark was the word "Unbelievable!" which he would use at least once - and often several times - each game.
Leavitt Funeral Home in Parkersburg is in charge of funeral arrangements. Visitation will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday. A memorial service will be conducted at 6 p.m. that day.
Daugherty has requested that donations be made to the Stadium Renovation Committee, care of Parkersburg High School, 2101 Dudley Ave., Parkersburg, WV 26101.