“I said, ‘Why in the hell do you think I hit that tree?’ ” Douglass recalled. The deputy drove him home without giving him a ticket.
“I never joined the AA. I joined the ‘Douglass Association,’ ” he said. “My wife said she’d consider kicking me out if I didn’t quit drinking.”
Next to law and politics, Douglass’ passion was his cattle. He built a 300-acre farm eight miles north of Tallahassee, Anhinga Farm, where he raised and bred prize polled Herefords.
“He was always trying to build a better type of Hereford,” said longtime friend William Jablon, headmaster at Maclay School, a private college prep school near Tallahassee.
Friends recalled Douglass’ quick wit, brilliant mind, fierce loyalty and folksy charm.
“Dexter was one of the brightest people I ever knew,” said Lucy Morgan, former Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau chief. “Sometimes he didn’t like what we wrote about him or his governor, and he would let us know. Several times he and I had shouting matches over the phone, but the next time I’d see him it was as though we had never argued.”
Douglass also served on numerous boards during his career, including the University of Florida Foundation, University of Florida Law Center Board of Trustees and Maclay School.
Appointed by four Florida governors to the Board of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, Douglass served for 16 years as both a member and as chairman. He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to the Advisory Board for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Douglass “never prepared an obituary,” Jablon added. “He never thought he was going to die.”
He is survived by his wife, Therese, three daughters and several grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, William.