WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — He’s the former owner of Daughtry’s Old Books downtown, and Dick Daughtry has quite the story of his own, from serving in World War II to running marathons at age 91.
In his literary life, Daughtry has been surrounded by pages of stories. At one time, there were 35,000 books on the shelves of his former store at 22 North Front Street.
Daughtry says he owes his professional success to the film industry.
“Whenever they would have an order, they would come to see me, and I would help them pick out the books, and that particular thing is what carried me through the ’90s,” Daughtry said.
But it’s the pages of his own story that are quite colorful.
At age 21, he enlisted as a radio mechanic in Patton’s 3rd Army in World War II. The time in war that is still raw in his mind is what he saw at a concentration camp in Buchenwald.
“We saw the ovens, and there were three ovens on this side and three on this side, and they did not finish the cremation on some of them,” Daughtry said. “They left in a hurry, so when we opened the doors, you could see their remains.”
It was an experience Daughtry said took him years to talk about. But his three years in service were also marked by high times. He was able to serve alongside US ace Gabby Gabreski, who shot down many enemy aircraft.
“I learned the code, the international code, ditty dum dum ditty, and I still know that code,” Daughtry said. “It’s like riding a bicycle, you never forget it.”
It’s that story that brings Daughtry to where he is today. At age 91 he is happy and still deeply in love with his wife Lucy.