Thursday, September 12, 2002

Last modified at 11:24 p.m. on Wednesday, September 11, 2002


Noted educator dies at 96
Doggett longtime Fletcher principal

By Jessie-Lynne Kerr
Times-Union staff writer

Frank A. Doggett, who as the founding principal of Fletcher Junior-Senior High School nurtured the educational pursuits of four decades of Beaches public school students, died Monday of heart failure. He was 96.

Mr. Doggett started as a teacher at Landon Junior-Senior High School in 1933, then served as principal at Fletcher from 1937 to 1969. The final two years before his retirement in 1971 were as principal of Lee High School.

But he also gained a national reputation in American literature. The University of Florida awarded Mr. Doggett an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 1967 for his book, Stevens' Poetry of Thought.

Mr. Doggett was cited by the university for having made a major contribution toward understanding the work of Wallace Stevens, who ranks along with Robert Frost as one of the great American poets of the 20th century. Mr. Doggett also published essays on Shakespeare and John Donne as well as articles on high school administration.

"He always inspired us to have interests beyond our usual fields," said his daughter, Jean Shepard of Atlantic Beach, herself an educator at Florida Community College at Jacksonville South Campus.

She said her father valued education and guided his students to go to good colleges.

"He wanted them to expand their horizons beyond their local community," she said.

Mr. Doggett, who lived in the Fleet Landing retirement community in Atlantic Beach, himself had varied interests, she added, with his favorite recreation being fishing.

Ish Brant worked for Mr. Doggett as Fletcher's athletic director and then was his boss when Brant was elected superintendent of schools.

Brant recalled that Mr. Doggett had good offers to teach at the University of Florida but never accepted them. "I really think Frank didn't want to leave the Beaches and the great fishing," Brant said. Mr. Doggett many times headed out to Mayport after locking up the school for the day to get in some fishing before sunset, he added.

Brant described Mr. Doggett as a man exceptionally well-prepared as an educator who had good rapport with everyone -- his students, his faculty members and the PTA. "He was one swell guy," Brant said.

Mr. Doggett was born in Jacksonville and received his bachelor's degree from Rollins College and his master's from Emory University. He also studied at the University of Florida, Columbia University and the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Doggett is survived by his son, John L. Doggett of Danville, Calif.; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A private funeral will be conducted later.

The family suggests memorials to the South Gallery at Florida Community College at Jacksonville South Campus, 11901 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32246.

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