Hundreds Gather To Honor a Hero Of Public Servants

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 20, 2008; Page B02

Among the tight sisterhood of women whose husbands were killed in the line of duty, Bud Doggett was a saint. He was there before they ever had to ask. He got to know each of their children by name, kept up with their hobbies and gave the kids presents on their birthdays and Christmas.

Doggett treated the families of fallen police officers and firefighters like his own, and all he expected in return was a quiet "thank you."

"Mr. Doggett was our angel here on earth," said Karmen Walker, 49, whose husband, Anthony M. Walker, a Prince George's police corporal, died in 2003. "Now he's our angel from above. He'll always be here with us."

In grand fashion, Washington bade farewell yesterday to Leonard B. "Bud" Doggett Jr., a humble Irishman who became a parking lot magnate and a benefactor leaving an indelible mark on the region's law enforcement community.

Mourners celebrated Doggett's little-known legacy: Heroes Inc., a nonprofit organization he founded in 1964. Through the group, he and other business leaders have quietly given millions of dollars in financial assistance to families of firefighters and police officers who died on the job.

Hundreds of officers and firefighters from across the area joined Washington's political and business elite in a final salute to Doggett, 87, who died Aug. 13 after a heart attack. During a funeral service yesterday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church downtown, attendees broke into spontaneous applause as they remembered Doggett as a devoted public steward who shunned publicity.

Seven white-gloved D.C. police officers carried Doggett's flag-draped coffin from the sanctuary into a hearse as the strains of bagpipes spilled across 10th Street NW. Doggett was accorded an elaborate police escort through downtown before he was buried.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and police and fire chiefs from neighboring counties paid their respects. After the service, Lanier recalled how Doggett went out of his way to make sure officers and their families were treated with "the utmost dignity."

"My police department belongs to Bud Doggett today, as it does every day," Lanier said.

Doggett, who was born in the District in 1920, was president and chief executive of Doggett Enterprises, the parent corporation of Doggett's Parking, which was founded by his parents in 1926.

For decades in Washington, he was a dominant businessman and a central backstage figure in politics, community development and the arts. Doggett also committed his life to supporting families of fallen police officers and firefighters, his widow, Cherrie W. Doggett, said in her eulogy.

"One of his greatest legacies was Heroes Inc., but he didn't want to talk about it," she said. The families of officers, she said, "were a part of his family, and he was connected by the loving concern of each and every one of his Heroes families."

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