By Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 15, 2008
L.B. "Bud" Doggett Jr. liked to sit in his sprawling office on the third floor at 660 11th St. NW, teeth clenched firmly on a Garcia y Vega cigar, a pour of vodka ready for the asking, and spin stories about his World War II days, where he became a fervent admirer of Gen. George S. Patton as a soldier in the European theater.
"He was the only man from whom you could get a straight vodka at three in the afternoon in an office that was big enough to land a plane in," said D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large).
The local parking mogul, real estate developer and banker, who died Wednesday at age 87, was a powerful figure in the Washington business community; a quintessential old-school, urban operator who operated in a smoke-filled room and signed funny, off-color notes with the salutation, "Shanty Irish."
"It's the closing of an era in civic leadership," said John Tydings, the former chairman of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and a close friend. "He really believed in civic involvement, the prime example being the creation of Heroes Inc., which is an organization, now in its forty-fifth year, that takes care of families of police officers and firefighters who were killed in the line of duty."
Tydings, who was at the Doggett home in the Spring Valley section of Washington yesterday, along with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and dozens of others who stopped by to pay their respects, said Doggett underwrote all of the administrative costs of Heroes.
Doggett was the owner, president and chief executive of Doggett Enterprises, the parent of Doggett's Parking Co., which was founded by his parents, Leonard B. and Rose Marie Doggett in 1926. When the younger Doggett returned from the war, he expanded the family's small real estate operation into a business empire that included parking services, real estate holdings and McLachlen National Bank, which he later sold to Citizens Bank.
Doggett, a practitioner of old-school city politics, loved to talk about who was doing what in business, philanthropy and D.C. politics. But he didn't filibuster.
"You never had to worry, 'If I get Bud Doggett on the phone, I am going to be on the phone forever,' " said U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). "He was very effective in using his time. He knew what he wanted do to, what he wanted to say, and he didn't take a long time to do either."
For years, Doggett's direct approach gave him a big say in city affairs, from who would lead the Greater Washington Board of Trade, where Doggett once served as president, to who would be the next mayor.
"What does Bud Think?" was a common refrain, according to many who knew him.
Irascible but respectful, Doggett reveled in his Irish ancestry and loved to send missives that were salted with off-color jokes. But he had a softer side, too.
Michele Hagans, president of Fort Lincoln New Town Co., remembers the help she received from Doggett when her father died in a 1984 plane crash. Doggett and her father had been partners in a parking company, D&H Parking, which served National Airport.
"He was a mentor when I had to step up and fill my father's shoes in learning not only the parking business but the development business," Hagans recalled.
Peter Nostrand, a former chairman of both the Board of Trade and of SunTrust Bank, said he was a frequent visitor to Doggett's office, which was filled with photos of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and others.
"He loved the Kennedys," Nostrand said. "And he loved the United States and how a little Shanty Irishman like himself could rise up and become something."