Soon afterward, he opened Marietta Dermatology in the basement of another doctor’s office. During his first week on the job, every patient he saw was sent by his physician friend. In those days, doctors did not advertise. Most patients learned about them through word-of-mouth or were referred by other doctors.
Those who know Dr. Doxey are not surprised to learn that he was his own one-man public relations team. His professional skills, his outgoing personality and superb work ethic guaranteed his success. At the time dermatologists were as rare as hen’s teeth in north Georgia. There was only one other one in the area.
Lynn Payne, Doxey’s medical assistant for 24 years, calls it a leap of faith that he decided to come to a place where he knew only one person to begin his career.
As Lynn said, “Dr. Doxey did things the ‘old school way.’ He would set aside days to drive to other towns, visit the doctors’ offices and leave one of his business cards.” Sometimes he went as far north as Murphy, N.C.
He and his family lived very near Kennestone Hospital. Nights, after he and his wife had put the children to bed, he would go to the doctors’ lounge at the hospital to get acquainted with the doctors there.
Borrowing a quote from the movie, “Field of Dreams,” “If you build it, they will come,” Dr. Doxey built his practice and “they” came in droves.
It grew, and it grew and it grew. The practice is now the largest private practice dermatology group in Georgia, including an office in Canton.
Some of his patients now are the grandchildren of his first patients.
At first, Dr. Doxey was a one-man show. He took calls around the clock seven days per week. Working with him now are 11 physicians and six physicians’ assistants.
Clem Doxey Jr. is the second generation of four men named Clem Melton Doxey.
When Clem Melton Doxey Sr. was born, he was named for the midwife who delivered him — Clementine Melton. Dr. Doxey’s son and one grandson have the same name. The Doxeys also have two daughters, Melanie Speed and Cappy Gratwick and 10 grandchildren.
Growing up in Natchitoches, La., he was a popular date, especially for local dances. He could dance. While the other guys stood around, he and the girls were on the dance floor jitterbugging.
He graduated from Louisiana School of Medicine, interned at Oaknoll Naval Hospital and graduated from Pensacola School of Medicine as a flight surgeon.
After serving in Vietnam, he did his dermatology residency at Tulane University.
Dr. Doxey’s manner with his patients is exemplary. He is down to earth, truly cares about each of them, treats everyone alike and for most becomes their friend. Always smiling when he goes into an examining room, he makes his patients feel at ease.
Clem Doxey always looks like a professional. When seeing patients, he is immaculately dressed in a shirt, tie and spotless white lab coat.
He does not hesitate to say exactly what he thinks. As Lynn’s daughter, Alison Payne, said, “He was born without a filter in his mouth.” Needless to say, that does not mean he uses inappropriate language.
Just as he is admired and respected by his patients, he has been highly recognized by his peers.
Among many other prestigious recognitions, he served as president of the North American Clinical Dermatologic Society and as chief of staff of Kennestone Hospital.
Although Dr. Doxey is the “big boss” at the office, he is also the brunt of the office jokes.
He takes it well — even when someone got his driver’s license and taped a picture of someone else over his, he could laugh about it. He carried it in his wallet for months before he discovered someone had tampered with it.
His Louisiana upbringing comes out when he reads “The Cajun’s Night Before Christmas” in perfect dialect at office Christmas parties. Often, when someone calls and asks, “What are you doing, Clem?” he answers, “I’m up to my knees in alligators.”
Now, after a career of well more than 40 years, Dr. Doxey is retiring. He will have more time to spend with his children and grandchildren, play golf, work in his garden, hike up and down Kennesaw Mountain and jiggerbugging.
The time since he announced he is retiring has been an emotional time for his patients. He has been hugged and kissed more than once.
If he has gone home from work recently with makeup on the collar of his usually immaculately clean lab coat, I am just one of those who put it there.
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska .