William Henry (WH) Maxey almost literally cut his teeth in the food preparation business. As a small child, he helped his father in the kitchen of the Mountain Ranger Hotel at Helen. At the age of 52, he was the owner of the Dry Dock Seafood Restaurant in downtown Gainesville, which ranked with the most successful eating establishments. Maxey built a solid reputation in the restaurant business before opening the Dry Dock Seafood Restaurant. Starting in 1948, he worked as a cook at the Dixie Hunt Hotel, then worked in the family's restaurant on Athens Street, owned by his father, Raymond, followed by work at Holiday Inn, the Elks Club
and an eight-year stint at Holly's Landing Restaurants (five locations in two states), where he became vice president of operations. The Dry Dock Seafood Restaurant on Washington Street in Gainesville, Ga., seated 320 people in the main dining area with additional seating of up to 500 in the Gym of 36 upstairs, which was open six days a week and accommodated some of the community's largest dinner meetings and civic groups.
Upon opening the Dry Dock, Maxey, an African-American, was asked by a Caucasian doctor once, "What kind of clientele do you expect to serve?" He replied, "95 percent white customers and 5 percent black." With Maxey employing 50 percent white and 50 percent black staff, the expectation held true that his staff of approximately 40 constituted the city's only truly integrated restaurant personnel. He had blacks and whites in all positions, and they all worked together with absolutely no problems from the start up until a fire destroyed the Dry Dock in 1988. In addition to the main Dry Dock location, he also established the Dry Dock II on Spring Street across from Northeast Georgia Medical Center. This restaurant offered a carry-out option for those on the go. Dry Dock II served vegetables, meats and sandwiches, seated about 60 people and offered breakfast and lunch. Maxey credits hard work for his success, along with a refusal, he said, "To serve any food that I wouldn't eat myself." He personally supervised all of the food that went out of the kitchen.
William Henry Maxey, age 82, of Gainesville, Ga., passed away Friday, July 12, 2013, at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Mr. Maxey was born Feb. 8, 1931, in Gainesville, Ga., to the late Raymond and Mattie Maxey. Mr. Maxey was an entrepreneur, chef, loving husband, father and devoted member of St. Paul United Methodist Church. Mr. Maxey was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Lindsey and Raymond Maxey; and sister, Marie Maxey-Williams.
Mr. Maxey leaves to cherish precious memories his devoted, caring wife, Elizabeth Maxey of Gainesville, Ga.; son, Garry Maxey Sr. (Betty), Gainesville, Ga.; daughter, Sandra Maxey (Chris), Gainesville, Ga.; grandchildren, Lisa Davenport (Todd), Hope Mills, N.C., Gary Maxey Jr. (Deannease) Gainesville, Ga., and Pamela Maxey of Stockbridge, Ga.; six great-grandchildren, Todrianna Etheridge (Daniel), Fort Knox, Ky., Bria Davenport and Ciera Davenport of Hope Mills, N.C., Deshun Maxey, Justin Maxey, and Donte Maxey, all of Gainesville, Ga.; great-great grandchild, Jaxson Etheridge of Fort Knox, Ky.; great-step-granddaughter, Kimya Banks; three great-great-step-grandchildren; and nieces, nephews, family and friends.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, July 18 at St. Paul United Methodist Church at 1 p.m. Visitation will be at St. Paul United Methodist Church on Wednesday, July 17, from 6-8 p.m.