1915 — 2014
LAKE JUNALUSKA — Robert Caxton Doggett, 98, passed away Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at his residence.
Caxton was born on April 23, 1915 in Kossuth, Mississippi. He was the oldest of the six children of Bob and Jennie May Doggett, who, in the midst of the Great Depression by self-sacrifice and hard work, sent them all through college. After graduating from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, where he was editor of the campus newspaper, he enrolled in Yale Divinity School. An outstanding student, he won academic awards and the praise of famed theologian Richard Niebuhr, while at the same time working for the Associated Press and the New Haven Journal-Courier to pay his way through school. He preached his class graduation sermon in 1939 and again at their 50th reunion.
After graduation, Caxton joined the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. In 1940 he courted and married "Miss Florida" Rebecca Ashton. He served as pastor of 10 churches over the next 40 years, except for 1945-1950 when he directed student work at the UMC Board of Missions in New York City.
A man of courage and a force for justice, Caxton championed civil rights causes in Florida. Although reared and educated in rural Mississippi, he grew to become chaplain of the Miami chapter of the NAACP, president of the Florida Council on Human Relations, and aide to Thurgood Marshall in the notorious Groveland Boys rape case. Also, as president of the Miami Chapter of the United Nations Association, he received a personal letter of thanks from Eleanor Roosevelt for his advocacy of the fledging U.N. Later he stepped forward to bridge his denomination's gender gap by receiving Florida's first female UMC pastor. Now a retired UMC bishop, she will lead his memorial service.
Vigorous and passionate, Caxton had a romantic's love of poetry which he could recite from memory and opera which he played until losing his hearing. He also competed intensely at tennis and bridge, winning numerous tournaments in each.
Caxton is preceded in death by his adored wife, Rebecca "Becky" Ashton Doggett, of New Smyrna Beach, Florida. He is survived by his daughter, Maurine Doggett (spouse, Jim Thacker) of Elkins Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his daughter Abigail Doggett Bordeaux (spouse, David H. Doggett Bordeaux) of Atlanta, Georgia; his four grandchildren and his four great-grandchildren. Also surviving are sisters Maye Evelyn Rogers and Karolyn Cain of Columbus Mississippi; and brother, Thad Doggett, of Denver, Colorado.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18 at the First United Methodist Church of Waynesville with Bishop Charlene Kammerer and the Rev. Sanford L. Giles officiating. The family will receive friends in the Faith Classroom following the service.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Alzheimer's Association, P.O. Box 748, Asheville, NC 28802 in memory of the 14 years Caxton cared for Becky.
Wells Funeral Homes & Cremation Services of Waynesville is in charge of arrangements. An online memorial register is available at www.wellsfuneralhome.com.