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Former Dry Dock owner dies at 82

Maxey remembered fondly as devoted entrepreneur, family man

POSTED: July 18, 2013 12:33 a.m.

William Henry Maxey, a longtime Gainesville resident and restaurant owner, died Friday.

Maxey, 82, was known for his Dry Dock seafood restaurant on Washington Street in downtown Gainesville. Maxey worked in the restaurant business for much of his life, and at age 52 opened Dry Dock.

His son, Garry Maxey Sr., spoke of the accomplishment, saying his father “always wanted to have his own business. And after he had worked with (so many) restaurants, he said he wanted to open his own.”

While opening his own business was considered a feat by many, some said it was that much more inspiring as an African-American man.

“A lot of people didn’t know it was owned by a black person. Back in those days, it was hard for a black person to be in the downtown area with a business like that and he took the gamble ... he proved that he could,” Garry Maxey Sr., said, adding, “it was an incentive for other people to try to come out and do the same thing.”

Maxey made it a point to integrate his restaurant by employing a staff that was 50 percent black and 50 percent white, according to his obituary in The Times.

His son recalled the diversity of the workers, adding that “(his father) tried to keep it as balanced as he could. He tried to work a lot of young people, high school(ers), teenage boys and girls, both black and white. We’ve got people today tell us, ‘Remember the time y’all gave my son or daughter a job so that they could move forward?’”

The Dry Dock had a widespread reputation, with people coming from all areas of the state, and sometimes beyond, to experience the food and atmosphere, Garry Maxey Sr. said.

“People traveled 40-50 miles at night just to come eat. People from all sides of Atlanta ... we had people from up as far as Tennessee that would drive down on Friday and Saturday nights,” he said. “Back then we could feed 600-700 people a night. People just piled in there.”

Although a fire destroyed the establishment in 1988, Garry Maxey Sr. said he believes his father’s restaurant left a positive mark on the community.

“I think anybody that you would talk to would say the same thing ... those who experienced it will tell you how great it was,” he said.

Garry Maxey Sr. also described his father as a dedicated and loyal member of St. Paul United Methodist Church.

“He was responsible for the annex that was built onto the church, and he just worked himself to death doing stuff for the church,” he said. “He had a really big church family and he was always active in the church. As far as I can remember back, he was always contributing to the church. He did what he could.”

Maxey’s wife, Elizabeth Maxey, said they would have been married 65 years this September.

“He was the best husband in the world,” she said, stating that Maxey was planning a party for her upcoming birthday on Sunday.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. today at St. Paul United Methodist Church.


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