For years, Graham W. Doxey has relied on favorite stories from the scriptures to teach, inspire and motivate others, and to find courage for himself.
"One story that has been a great help to us in the past few years has been the one of Nephi where he, with his brothers, was assigned to get the plates from Laban," said Elder Doxey, 64, who, exudes a peaceful, happy countenance. "They made the first effort and were unsuccessful. They were unsuccessful the second time. Nephi finally got his brothers to go back with him to the city, but they were so cowed with fear that he told them to stay outside the city while he went in alone. They couldn't imagine how they possibly could get those plates. They had lost their gold; they had nothing with which to bargain."But even in the face of that, Nephi was not dissuaded. He went. It was at night, as he said, ` . . . not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth. . . . ' (1 Ne. 4:6-7.)
"Nephi took a step. He didn't have knowledge. He went on blind faith, stepping into the darkness beyond the light."
And that, declared Elder Doxey, is an apt description of how he is approaching his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, to which he was sustained April 6. "Sometimes we just have to go on simple faith and take a step," he said.
His parents helped set examples for such steps of faith. His father, Graham H. Doxey, presided over what was then the East Central States Mission from 1943-46. His mother, Leone Watson Doxey, now 91, served as a counselor to LaVern Watts Parmley in the Primary general presidency. Elder Doxey's father died 21 years ago.
The younger Graham Doxey, who is known to family and close friends as "Bud," was 16 when the family moved from Salt Lake City to Louisville, Ky., then the mission's headquarters.
Years later, in 1973, he and his wife had an opportunity to be a "mission family" when President Harold B. Lee called him to preside over the Kansas-Missouri Mission, which a short time later became the Missouri Independence Mission. "We enjoyed three years in the mission," Elder Doxey said. "We had our 12th child born to us in Jackson County; we had two married at that time, and the others were with us in the mission. It really was a family experience for us. It welded us together."
For Elder Doxey, the realization of the importance of families began in early childhood. "My grandfather, Tom Graham Doxey, was born in England," he related. "His mother died and his father was away at sea. His grandmother brought him to America when he was 14, about the time they joined the Church. He lived with a roommate in a dinky little room. He told me that when he was a young boy, he hungered for a family."
When the time came for Graham W. to leave the family circle, he gained a greater understanding of the loneliness his grandfather must have felt in his youth. After he graduated from high school in Louisville while his father was mission president, he joined the Navy and was assigned with the American forces sent to northern China to transport Japanese soldiers out of China after World War II.
"There I was in northern China, lonely and homesick," said Elder Doxey. "I was the only LDS boy in our unit." The slim, 6-foot-tall young man with blond hair and blue eyes, through that experience in China, gained a brief glimpse of the loneliness his grandfather must have felt.
Out of that experience, however, came an incident that demonstrated to him that family love can narrow the distance across thousands of miles. He and about 12 other sailors got on the wrong train while returning from leave in a city about 40 miles from their base. When they discovered their error, they got off the train in a desolate area, which he described as looking much like Utah's Salt Flats. They started walking back toward the base.
They found a hand-pump cart beside the railroad, which which they put on the tracks. They got off and pushed it up inclines and jumped on to ride down hills. "One time, it started to gain momentum as it went down hill," Elder Doxey recalled. "Everybody jumped on. I was running alongside looking for a place to jump on. The only place left was in front, between the tracks, right in the center. I thought it wasn't very wise to try to get on there, but that was all there was left.
"I thought about my mother. All the years of my life, as I went out the door, she would say, `Now, Bud, you be careful.' I could hear the squeaking screen door close as she was saying that.
"That went through my mind. I thought, `This isn't being careful,' but I had to jump on or be left behind. I ran between the tracks, jumped on the cart and perched there for a few minutes. Then I fell between the tracks in front of the cart. My right foot got caught in the gears underneath and locked the wheels. It was a foolish thing to have done. My boot was cut and my foot was cut a bit. It could have been serious; I could have lost my life.
"My next letter from Mother and Dad asked,
Has something happened?' I wrote and said I had a little accident but it wasn't serious. It turned out that at the very moment I was thinking of my mother, she and my father were on a mission tour. It was about 2 in the morning where they were. She sat straight up in bed, shook my father and said,Bud's in trouble.' They got out of bed and knelt beside it and prayed that whatever trouble I was in, that I would be preserved. We determined it was at the exact moment I was having that experience with the rail cart. That's always been a sweet experience and lesson."
After he returned from the Navy, he attended the University of Utah for a year before he was called to serve in the mission over which his father had recently presided. The day after his mission began, however, the mission was divided. He was assigned to the new Central Atlantic States Mission, where he served two years in Virginia and North Carolina.
While on his mission, he and Mary Lou Young, with whom he became acquainted before his mission, wrote to each other. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on June 22, 1950, by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, a friend of the Doxey and Young families.
Elder Doxey graduated from the University of Utah in 1952 with a degree in business and returned a year for graduate work.
He then went to work for the Doxey-Layton Realty Co., a company begun in Salt Lake City in 1923 by his father and Howard J. Layton, a carpenter and contractor.
Sister Doxey received a bachelor's degree and was certified to teach elementary school. However, she had other plans for how she would spend her time and talents.
She said, "I always wanted a large family. When I was growing up, I heard my father say many times,
There's nothing that will bring you greater joy than having a large family.' I grew up saying,I'm going to have 12 children.' And I did."
Elder Doxey said, "I thought four would be nice; we could fit them all in the same car. But Mary Lou's ambition was to have a larger family. That takes a lot of selflessness. She has never had any concerns for the material things she could have wanted; she just wanted what her family desired and needed. Observing her has been a marvelous inspiration. She has focused on the important things in life."
One of the important things, according to Elder Doxey, is doing one's best in life. He recalled an early childhood experience that lessened his self-esteem but quickened his caution to never offend or hurt others through thoughtless words or actions. "I overheard one of my elementary school teachers tell my mother that I would never amount to anything," he said. "The teacher said I would never get through high school. She told my mother, `If he can just get a job sweeping a floor some place, let him do it. That's the best he will do.'
"My parents knew I heard the teacher's comments. My father told me, `You can do anything. Don't hold back. You've got all these capabilities.'
"I guess I worked hard so I would not disappoint my parents," Elder Doxey said. "They were supportive, but they didn't drill that their children had to have straight-A's to succeed. And I think that's been our attitude toward our children. They were good students, but my wife and I tried to teach them that grades and paychecks are not the only measures of success."
Elder Graham W. Doxey
- Family: Born March 30, 1927, in Salt Lake City to Graham H. and Leone Watson Doxey. Married Mary Lou Young June 22, 1950, in the Salt Lake Temple; parents of 12 children, they have 54 grandchildren.
- Education: Attended the University of Louisville one year; graduated from the University of Utah, 1952; attended graduate school, 1953.
- Military: U.S. Navy, 1945-46.
- Employment: President of Doxey-Layton Co., a real estate management firm.
- Church service: Bishop; stake president; mission president, 1973-76; and a counselor in the Young Men general presidency, 1977-79.