Earl Edward Drake was born March 2, 1928 in Shepherd, San Jacinto County.
Earl was the son of Sarah Sedeño Drake and Allen Drake. He swam in nearby Coley Creek as a boy and loved to fish for catfish and perch. He would steal the little white worms from wasp’s nests for bait, scraping them out with a pole. One day he was scraping away at a nest and a wasp came out and sat on the end of the pole and stung him. He said, “The whole side of my face swelled up.”
As a boy, he rode to work in the cotton fields on a horse borrowed from a friend. Later, he and a hired man, “John Henry”, worked floating lumber down the river. By then his father had acquired two mules and two horses, cavalry animals from the army. The mules were hooked up to the lumber and when they reached a bend in the river the command to “Gee” or Haw” was given depending which way the river turned and the animals were guided down the river to the lumber mill. He attended Shepherd High School and played full back on the six man football team.
He graduated high school and at age 17, finished boot camp in San Diego and served his country as a United States Marine. He moved to Orange where he married Betty Jean Hendrickson of Pineville, Ky. The couple had four children. The family were members of the First United Methodist Church. Locally, Earl served as president of the Orange Jaycees and was voted man of the year. He brought such celebrities as Steve McQueen, Clu Gulager and Michael Landon to entertain at the Orange Sheriff’s Posse Rodeos. He was an expert horseman.
Earl was employed by DuPont Sabine River Works and retired after 40 years. He and his wife Betty successfully owned and operated Park Avenue One Hour Cleaners for over 30 years. He enjoyed gardening and resurrected many of the old rose bushes and flowering vines from Riverside which were by then growing wild. Transplanted at the family residence, they flourished under his care. He was a breeder of beautiful award winning Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs, and also served as a contest judge. He trained his dogs to the show ring himself. It was a thrill to watch him put them through their paces, the golden Ridgebacks in perfect sync along with his one beloved black Doberman, “Thor”.
He rooted for the Dallas Cowboys and because the Burnt Orange is his daughter’s Al Mater, he and Betty also cheered for the Horns whenever they played. Over the years, the hat rack in the mud room of the home became decorated with headwear of all kinds. They signified events in the lives of his family that he supported by wearing them. There were Chevron and Gulf Oil caps from oldest son, Tommy, a Texas Longhorn cap from daughter, Vicki, and an army Special Forces cap from grandson, Taylor Drake. Keith, his youngest son is the resident car nut and supplied him with racing caps and Earl also had his Kentucky Colonel cap.
His last wish was to once again visit the woods of Shepherd that he ran through as a barefoot boy, and he was hoping to make that trip with his daughter. Our Lord came for him before then but his children are sure his wish has been granted.
Good bye, Daddy and happy trails.
Earl was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Betty; son Stephen Earl; sister, Edna Sage, and brother, Clifford. He was loved, and is mourned by son Tomalee Clay and daughter-in-law Faye; daughter, Vicki Drake Brown and husband Frank, son Reginald Keith Drake and daughter-in-law Sandy and nephew, Ron Sage.
Also mourning his loss are grandchildren Alexander and Christian Drake; Brandon Brown; Kevin Drake & wife Tania, Taylor Drake, Emily Cooksey and husband Jesse; Adam & Lauren Drake; Nicole Gustafsson and husband Bjorn; Christie Kasko and husband Jeremy.
Great grandchildren Tyler Drake; Devyn Drake; Addie & Emberlee Hale; Penelope Shae; Xander & Zoe Gustafsson; Riley and Zachary Cooksey.
The family would like to thank Jean McDaniel for five years of care and concern to both Earl and wife, Betty.
Services are pending at Claybar funeral Home of Orange.