As the sun set Friday afternoon dozens of New Encinitas residents gathered to celebrate the life of Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL who was among the four Americans killed in September during an attack against the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
They gathered for a laidback block party on Rodney Avenue, the street Doherty called home for the past eight years. Neighbors all pitched in to create a sprawling potluck that lined the street—and kids ran from house to house piling up their plates while the adults sipped IPAs and listened to a band play surfer tunes. It was exactly what Doherty would have wanted, says Guy Lake, a lifelong friend who flew in for the event.
“He would have loved this party because this is literally what he asked us to do. We didn’t talk about it much, but he said this is exactly how he wanted us to remember him,” says Lake standing in Doherty’s garage. He pauses to sort through a stack of t-shirts he’s selling to help raise money for The Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation. Fittingly, the t-shirts depict a man enjoying a beer and read ‘Having one for G-Bub,’ which was Doherty’s nickname. “He wanted us to celebrate, so that’s what we’re doing. He would have loved to see all these people from different walks of life coming together to celebrate for one night.”
Next door a giant banner hanging across a garage reads ‘Home of the Free because of the Brave.” Homeowner Gracie Cheney-Parsons had it printed for the party. Her driveway is almost entirely filled with tables of food, including a large cake that reads ‘God Bless our Heroes.’ This, she says, was the least she could do to honor Doherty.
“He always said it’s no party if it ends the same day it starts,” she jokes. She goes on to recall birthdays and cookouts they shared, explaining that Doherty was more than a neighbor to most people on that street. “This is not just a ‘hello and goodbye’ kind of neighborhood. We are all really close. I still see his truck there in the driveway and feel like maybe he’s coming back."
At the thought of this she is overcome with sadness and begins to cry. She regains her composure, smiles and through her tears says, “He’s off on another journey now, but we will never forget him. He’s a hero and he embodied what it means to be patriotic.”
And to Cheney-Parsons, Doherty was also “a pure sweetheart” and possibly the most genuine person she’s ever met.
“He had a smile that would light up the room and when he hugged you, it was for real because that’s just who he was.”