Marco icon and native Ralph Doxsee dies at 94

Tributes and good wishes have poured in over the past few days for Ralph Clinton Doxsee, 94, a Marco Island native who died on Sept. 5 following a heart attack 12 days earlier.

Described by his daughter, Nancy Naftal, as an “awesome” man who loved hunting, fishing, frogging and airboating in the Everglades, Doxsee was a Marco resident all his life.

“Five years ago, he was still going out on his airboat,” Naftal said. “He loved the water and the woods.”

More than anything though, she said, he was a man who embraced his large family of five children, 15 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren with equal doses of discipline and passion.

“When we were kids,” Naftal said, “he’d get after us if we were out of line, but he taught us everything about hunting and fishing.”

Doxsee worked with his own father at the original Doxsee Clam Factory (in the vicinity of the Snook Inn), and became captain of a dredge that was used to build Port of the Islands and also Cape Coral.

Not a person to miss out on some fun, even in his later years, Doxsee was the center of attraction at a heck of a party just last year aboard the Marco Island Princess.

“He even had a shot of Jack Daniels,” Naftal said.

Doxsee bravely bore the loss of his wife, Luella, in 1999, Naftal recalled, but remained fiercely independent.

“It took me more than a year to convince him to come and live with us,” she said.

As for the changes Doxsee witnessed on the island from a deeper perspective than most, Naftal said he was philosophical on that issue.

“He didn’t say much about it, really,” she said.

Historian Betsy Perdichizzi described the whole Doxsee family as significant to the island’s heritage.

“They’re part of the fabric of the history of the island,” she said. “Ralph left such a legacy. He was a fishing guide, a boat captain ... he did a little bit of everything.”

A fitting tribute, Perdichizzi said, would be if the remaining family members put together a book about what he meant to the island.

“As this generation passes,” she said, “it leaves us with a great loss of the living history of the island that dates back to its origins.”

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday at Fuller Funeral Home, 4735 Tamiami Trail East. Burial at Marco Island Cemetery will follow.

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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