It is with great sadness that the Deli Market News team announces the passing of Kerry Curtis Doughty. He passed away on March 17, 2020, following a brave battle with cancer. The legacy he leaves behind will live on, especially in the meat and protein industry where he served for many years as a key leader as the President and CEO of Butterball (2014-2018) and as the immediate past Chairman of the National Turkey Federation.
He was the oldest of six children born to Richard and Jeri Doughty on June 28, 1953, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Doughty was intelligent, kind, and compassionate to others. He was an avid reader and willing to listen to different points of view and concerns when often others would not. He was hard working and held jobs at an early age, ranging from paper routes to dishwasher at a donut shop.
Upon graduating from Thomas Howe High School in Indianapolis, Doughty attended classes at Indiana University-Perdue University Indianapolis, but soon joined Dura Containers where he found his calling in sales. Shortly after, he followed his father into the food industry, eventually becoming a salesman for Midwest distribution. He met his wife, Jan, during a blizzard in 1977, and in 1978 they eloped.
In 1982, a call from Wilson Foods began a series of sales and marketing positions of increasing responsibility across a variety of brands, including Kretschmar Brands (1986) and Loveland Foods (1988)—where he held Vice President of Sales positions. In 1985, at the age of 32, Doughty won a prestigious Ring Club award from Wilson Foods.
In 1990, a call from a former mentor at Wilson Foods necessitated a move to Fast Food Merchandisers (FFM) (Hardee’s Food Systems) in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where Doughty served as Vice President of Customer Service, then Vice President of International Sales and Senior Vice President of Sales for GolPak. When Perdue Farms bought GolPak in 1998, Doughty stayed on as Director of Food Service Sales. He was quickly promoted to Vice President of Food Service Sales.
Doughty then joined Butterball as Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing, and Research and Development in 2007. From there, he was promoted to President and CEO of Butterball in 2014, where he remained until 2018 when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Over the course of his career, Doughty sought to improve as a leader, attending various executive development programs at top universities. He also set himself apart by making close friends of business associates and acquaintances along the way. This, coupled with his penchant for hard work and thoughtful consideration of others, made him unique and beloved in the industry.
He served on board positions including the American Heart Association-Triangle Heart Walk, the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, the North American Meat Institute, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, and the National Turkey Federation (NTF). Most recently, as 2019 chairman of the NTF, Doughty presented the National Thanksgiving Turkey to the President and First Lady during the pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House. At the completion of his term, Doughty was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the NTF at its convention in Nashville on February 15, 2020. In addition, he was also the recipient of the Urner Barry Poultry Person of the Year in 2018.
Doughty was an athlete and lifelong sports enthusiast who enjoyed playing golf whenever he could, according to a press release. He was an inaugural season ticket holder for both the Nashville Predators hockey team and the Tennessee Titans football team. He was a Notre Dame Fighting Irish football fan and an Indy Car race fan who attended at least 45 races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway over the years. When the 2014 opportunity came to have Butterball sponsor a car for one race with the Andretti Team for the Indianapolis 500, he recognized the marketing possibilities and chose Ryan Hunter-Reay as the driver he wanted Butterball to sponsor. Hunter-Reay won the race that year with the Butterball logo on his car and on his racing suit.
Doughty also enjoyed supporting the basketball programs at Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. He also attended Carolina Hurricanes hockey matches whenever he could.
Through it all, he was an attentive, considerate person and a great father, husband, son, brother, and friend.
He is survived by his loving wife of 41 years, Jan Doughty; three children, Brooke Huber (Daniel), Devin Doughty (Ashley), and Reece Doughty (Stephanie); and two grandsons, Noah and Owen Huber. Other survivors include three sisters and one brother: Sherry Beck (Kelly), Bill Doughty (Susan), Stacy Doughty-Hall, and Kelly Sue Rapp (Brian). He was predeceased by his father, Richard (2005); mother, Jeri (2019); and sister, Teresa Doughty (2016).
At Doughty’s request, a Celebration of Life will be held in Cary, North Carolina, and in Indianapolis—both at a later date in light of current events. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Racing for Cancer, 951 Queen Annes Road, Houston, TX 77024.
The Deli Market News team offers our condolences to Kerry Doughty's family and friends during this time.