Walter Francis Doughty, school administrator and government education official, son of Daniel Milton and Sara Elizabeth (Ray) Doughty, was born in Emory, Mississippi, on July 22, 1873. He attended Arkansas public schools and Culberland College at Clarksville, then taught school in Arkansas. In 1895 he moved to Texas, where he taught at Mertens in east central Hill County. Two years later he married Ettie May Adler. The couple had two children. In 1898 Doughty became principal at nearby Brandon. The money he earned during this period financed his education at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1906 Doughty received his bachelor's degree and became superintendent of the Marlin School District. Subsequently, in addition to his duties as superintendent, he taught summer school at Baylor University (1908), served as president of the board of education of Falls County (1908-11), received his master of arts degree from the University of Chicago (1911), and taught summer classes at Southwest Texas State Normal School (now Southwest Texas State University) from 1911 to 1913.
Doughty was treasurer of the Texas State Teachers Association from 1908 to 1912 and president in 1912. Because of his experience as superintendent and involvement with the association, Governor Oscar B. Colquitt appointed him state superintendent of public instruction on September 1, 1913. The following year he was elected to the position, which he held until 1919. During his tenure, Doughty lobbied to modernize the rural school system. He successfully campaigned for a $2 million appropriation package to aid poor school districts, for compulsory school attendance, for vocational education, and for the reorganization of rural school districts into a more efficient administrative system.
During World War I he was in charge of supervising war training services for the federal government in the public schools of Texas. After the war he became district vocational officer for the Federal Board for Vocational Education. In this position he organized rehabilitation work in District Fourteen, which included the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Between 1919 and 1923 he handled the claims of more than 30,000 disabled veterans.
In 1923 Doughty returned to Hill County to accept the presidency of Hillsboro Junior College (see HILL JUNIOR COLLEGE) and the position of superintendent of the Hillsboro schools. Under his leadership HJC became the first municipal junior college to be organized in the state. Doughty introduced the 5-4-4 plan: five years of elementary school (ages seven to eleven), four years of junior high school (ages eleven to fifteen), and four years of senior high school and junior college (ages fifteen to nineteen). In 1925 his duties increased as he became president of the board of education of Hill County. Doughty published a number of articles in educational journals. He was a Democrat, a Mason, and a Presbyterian. In the late 1920s his health failed, and after a long illness he died at Marlin on August 20, 1931.