Gifford B. Doxsee | 1924 - 2017 | Obituary

Gifford B. Doxsee
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Memorial Service
Saturday, Sep 09, 2017
2:00 PM

Gifford B. Doxsee

July 04, 1924 - July 16, 2017

U.S. VeteranThe town of Athens lost a good friend when Gifford B. Doxsee, age 93, died on the evening of July 16, 2017 at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, Athens.

Gifford was born July 4, 1924 in Bay Shore, NY; the son of the late Robert Lenox Doxsee and Jessie May Gifford Doxsee. Gifford grew up working hard in his father’s clamming business, Doxsee Sea Clam Company. He graduated from Freeport high school in 1942, and that same year Gifford enlisted in the United States Army; eventually he served in the European Theater, 106th Infantry Div. 3rd Bn HQ Co., 423 Infantry Regiment in World War II. He was a Prisoner of War in Germany for 5 months, billeted in Dresden, Germany in Slaughter House 5, where he met fellow Prisoner of War Kurt Vonnegut, who later wrote the novel Slaughter House Five which was inspired by their experience.

After the war, Gifford attended Cornell University, graduated in 1948, then attended Harvard University for graduate studies in history of modern Europe. He earned his graduate degree in 1949, taught at The American University in Beirut, Lebanon from 1952-1955 and later earned a Ph.D from Harvard University in 1966.

Gifford moved to Athens in 1958 to teach European, African and Middle Eastern history at Ohio University. He married his wife Mary Letitia Cowan, who was also a professor at OU, at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in 1964. During his years at OU, Dr. Doxsee was considered a scholar of Middle Eastern History, he served on committees for the University, including chairing the Energy Conservation Committee in the 1970’s and directing the African Studies graduate program from 1983-1991, and is remembered by many students as a supporter and encourager who helped his students achieve their goals. Dr. Doxsee enjoyed attending OU basketball games with his wife and friends, traveling, telling stories about his life, and being part of the OU community. After 35 years at OU, Dr. Doxsee retired from teaching and became Professor Emeritus of History. He and his wife chose to stay in Athens after their retirements.

Gifford was active in the life of Athens, volunteering and sometimes serving as director for many local organizations including: the Athens County Historical Society and Museum, Rural Action, Planned Parenthood of S. E. Ohio, Appalachian Community Hospice, and others. He was a member of the Athens Reading Club, Kiwanis Club of Downtown Athens, and several national professional organizations. He was inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame for his many years of community service. In addition, he served as adjunct/treasurer of the Mid-Ohio Valley Chapter, American Ex-Prisoners of War, and as JVC of the Dept. of Ohio. Remembering his prisoner of war days, he taught GED classes to prison in-mates and mentored ex-convicts. He was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 2011. He was loved by many in Athens, and had just recently received an Honor Quilt from the Athens Ladies Elk Auxiliary.

Gifford was a faithful and active member of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Athens where he served in multiple capacities, including Senior Warden, and participated in many diocesan-wide ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio. Gifford served on the Liberian Discernment Committee, and visited the Anglican Diocese of Liberia to form a relationship between the two dioceses. He helped start and supported the Hocking Valley Correctional Chapter of KAIROS, a Christian ministry to prisoners, supported programs to welcome and support Haitian refugees, and was instrumental in forming relationships with international students, especially students from Africa. His relationship with an Anglican priest from Nigeria, the Rev. Felix Obayan, led to the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kwana in Western Nigeria, the Rt. Rev. Herbert Haruna, asking Gifford to serve as his Commissary (host/representative), which led to many relationship-building visits. Gifford worked with several other members of Church of the Good Shepherd who together helped the parish realize, embrace, and live into its ministry to the international students in Athens.

Whether people knew Gifford from OU, around town, his local parish, diocese or international relationships, he was known as someone who cared about others, was genuinely interested in how people were doing, and wanted to do what he could to make the world a better place.

Gifford is survived by his brother, Robert L. (Patricia) Doxsee, Jr., of Point Lookout, NY; brother-in law, Emil J. Nagele; nieces Elizabeth B. Doxsee, Jennifer Doxsee Gilmore and Pamela Wahl; nephews Robert Doxsee and Richard Nagele, Colin and David Frost; and a dear friend, Julia Nehls of Athens.

Besides his parents, he is preceded in death by his wife, Mary Cowan Doxsee a professor of Home Economics at Ohio University in 2008; and a sister, Eleanor Nagele.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 9th at 2:00 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 64 University Terrace, Athens, with the Rev. Deborah Woolsey officiating. His ashes will be interred in Union Cemetery of Lloyd, New Paltz, New York.

Arrangements are with Jagers & Sons Funeral Home, Athens. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Athens, Ohio; Ohio University Foundation; KAIROS of Ohio; or the American Ex-Prisoners of War. Please share a memory, a note of condolence or sign the online register book at

Memorial Service

Saturday, September 09, 2017
2:00 PM

Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
64 University Terrace
Athens, Ohio 45701

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