L.B. Doggett Jr.; Parking Tycoon, Civic Leader

Leonard B. "Bud" Doggett Jr., a power broker and president of what is now the Greater Washington Board of Trade, worked to keep downtown thriving.
Leonard B. "Bud" Doggett Jr., a power broker and president of what is now the Greater Washington Board of Trade, worked to keep downtown thriving. (1967 Photo By Ellsworth Davis -- The Washington Post)
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By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 15, 2008

L.B. "Bud" Doggett Jr., 87, a publicity-averse D.C. commercial parking magnate who emerged in the 1960s as a major civic leader and a central backstage figure in politics and community development, died Aug. 13 at his home in Washington after a heart attack.

Mr. Doggett was president and chief executive of Doggett Enterprises, the parent corporation of Doggett's Parking, which was founded by his parents in 1926.

It was the city's first private parking company, and the younger Mr. Doggett guided it quietly to greater prominence after taking over in the 1950s. For decades, he was a force in preventing the District from building municipally owned parking garages and challenging private firms, a rarity for a large U.S. city.

Mr. Doggett, who also amassed a large portfolio of real estate interests, was a dominant business figure in the city under the old federally appointed District Commissioners system and during the emergence of elected leaders in the mid-1970s.

He liked to joke privately that he was "Shanty Irish," but he was an effective fundraiser for politicians on Capitol Hill and in what was then known as the District Building as well as a trusted power broker between the political elite in the city and the federal government.

His support was considered crucial to the completion of large ventures, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the old Washington Convention Center, heralded as the country's fourth largest after it was built in 1982. It was demolished in 2005.

A key legacy was Mr. Doggett's belief in keeping business in the city despite the devastating riots of 1968 and later tax increases. He held high offices with what is now the Greater Washington Board of Trade -- he served a term as president in 1967 -- and led many efforts to rejuvenate downtown.

While leading the board, he helped donate thousands of dollars' worth of equipment for training courses in typing and hairdressing as well as sports uniforms and toys for residents of the Valley Green housing complex in Southeast.

Longtime broadcasting executive Andy Ockershausen said Mr. Doggett was "a good negotiator and believed in downtown Washington. He always felt if downtown was thriving, the whole metropolitan area would thrive. He kept his business here, refused to move it out of city."

Leonard Brent Doggett Jr. was born Aug. 25, 1920, in the District and attended Georgetown Preparatory School.

He entered World War II as an Army Air Forces pilot, then transferred to the Army infantry after he was reprimanded for flying under a bridge during training in Texas.

As an infantryman, he received decorations for heroism. They included the Bronze Star for organizing a defense unit as others evacuated wounded soldiers from a besieged French village.

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