'He loved the water': Family reflects on life of one of Doxsee clan's patriarchs

Dwight C. Doxsee, 72, passed away Tuesday doing what he loved, navigating the waters off Marco Island, looking for a good catch on a crisp, clear day.

Dwight Doxsee doing what he loved best.

Courtesy of Nancy Naftal

Dwight Doxsee doing what he loved best.

Dwight Doxsee follows his father, Ralph Doxsee, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 94. Dwight was the second oldest child of Ralph, operator of the Doxsee Clam Factory on Marco Island for the better part of the 20th century.

Sister Nancy Naftal said Dwight was much like his father, a great lover of crabbing and air boating.

"He was one of the last good old boys," she says with a laugh.

Memories of Doxsee run deep for his sister, Lucille Thompson.

"We had a good time growing up," she said.

She, Dwight and their older brother were a tight pack of older siblings who hung together even after their two younger sisters were born.

"I used to always bargain with them about who had to do the dishes," she says, laughing. "And they finally conned me into doing the dishes because they paid me. Then my mom made me do the dishes anyway and they stopped paying me. After that they were off the hook."

Dwight Doxsee is also remembered by his family as a man whose life was defined by the sea and his lifelong career in crabbing. Elder son Dennis says his father could hardly have been happier doing something else.

"He did it five days a week," Dennis said. "It meant everything to him. He liked being out on the water — it was his life."

For both Dennis and his younger brother, Douglas, memories of their father are intertwined with crabbing, in the inextricable way of a man who dedicated his life to a love of two things: the water and family.

"My best memories were growing up on the boat with him, and just thinking he knew everything," said Dennis. "I really looked up to him."

Naftal said he was a gentle person who kept to himself, but always offered an opinion to anyone who asked for it.

"He never got mad at anybody, he never had a bad opinion of anyone," she says. "He was just Dwight."

Dwight Doxsee came from a family known for its pioneering spirit. His father, brother and three sisters were the descendants of a clan that set up shop when there was little else around.

Before the Deltona Corporation began buying and developing the island, and before the Mackle brothers left their stamp on it, the Doxsee family made the island their own little empire, built amid the seemingly endless bounty offered by the warm gulf waters.

As his sons tell it, Dwight Doxsee did that family legacy justice.

"He really got started when crabbing got started," said Douglas. "He was a true pioneer."

Dwight Doxsee is survived by his wife of 51 years, Kristin; his sisters, Nancy Naftal of Marco Island, Lucille Thompson of Naples, Linda Arthur of Naples; two sons, Dennis and Douglas; and his daughter, Debbie.

He also leaves seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A viewing will be held Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fuller Funeral Home, located at 4735 Tamiami Trail East.

The service for Dwight Doxsee is scheduled at 11 a.m. Saturday, also at the home.

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