Richard Jennings Drake, 89, of Dunwoody, Georgia, passed away at his home Thursday, September 19, 2019. Mr. Drake was born in Chicago, Illinois on January, 2 1930. His family moved to Downers Grove, Illinois in 1932 where he developed lifelong friendships, attended Downers Grove High School, lettered in football, attained the rank of Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow, was a member of the DeMolay fraternal organization, and performed in various school drama productions. Prior to his Senior year, he joined the United States Navy and was stationed on the USS Waldron, in New Orleans. After this brief service, he graduated from high school and attended Utah State University, joined Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and pursued a degree in Civil Engineering. He responded to the call for service and joined the ROTC of the burgeoning Army Air Corps. He graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science degree and the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.
He married his longtime girlfriend whom he met his freshman year in high school, Marie Kathryn Pierobon on February 10, 1953, in the chapel at Hamilton Air Force Base in San Rafael California. One of Richard’s early duties was working on the development of the Distant Early Warning (DEW Line) radar stations in the far northern Artic regions of Canada. He continued his commitment to service for his country throughout his life with active duty assignments during the Korean War and Cuban Missile Crisis. Richard continued to serve his country with honor over the course of the next 30 years and obtained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force.
Richard and Marie settled in Prairie Village, Kansas. His first civilian employment was with Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff Civil Engineering firm in Kansas City Missouri. They moved to Reno, Nevada before returning to San Rafael, California where he started an extensive career with DeLeuw Cather & Co. In 1965 the company transferred Richard and his family to Adelaide, South Australia where he was part of a team that completed the study of their transportation system. After extensive travel through the orient, the family returned to the U.S. and ultimately settled in Dover, Massachusetts. Richard continued to be active in the community and spent many years enjoying friends, family, summers on Cape Cod and skiing during the winter months in New England. He also purchased his first Model A Ford while in Dover and became a member of the Model A Club of America. In Atlanta he joined the Gold Mine Region Chapter as well as the Georgia Model A Restorers Club where he enjoyed many years of camaraderie.
In 1973 he was transferred to Atlanta where he ultimately worked as a Project Manager for MARTA. Upon his retirement from MARTA he consulted for the Georgia DOT. He was a vital member of the growing Dunwoody community. He played tennis socially as well as competitively with ALTA. He and Marie were driving forces in the inception and creation of Dunwoody Stage Door Players. The family joined the Dunwoody Country Club in 1987, he continued to play in ALTA and became an avid golfer. Marie and Richard filled their retirement with extensive travel through Europe, visits to family and high school reunions. Richard was an integral member of the Founding Committee for the Incorporation of the City of Dunwoody where his insight and professional consultation services contributed to the efforts of the committee. After years of dedication and countless volunteer hours, he helped guide the resolution for the incorporation of the City of Dunwoody in 2008.
Richard was a determined, pragmatic, and intellectual man with a clever wit and a quick sense of humor. He was always willing to offer a helping hand, guide a decision, or suggest solutions and never shied away from a compelling argument. He held in high regard the unique Drake family heritage and maintained his connection to the homestead that was settled in the mid 1700’s in western Pennsylvania. But to the last, Richard was a committed husband, a father of integrity and remained “The very model of a modern major general.”
Richard is survived by his wife, Marie, children Robert Drake (Lesley Ann), Leisa Bower (Tim) and Alison Murphy (Patrick), grandchildren, Capt. Justin Bower USAF (Maegan), Ethan Bower (Lindsey), Emily Drake, Alice Drake, Patrick J. Murphy, Liam Murphy, Sean Murphy and great grandson, Drake Bower, born Sept 8, 2019.
Services will be held at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Dunwoody, Ga. on Tuesday, October 8 at 1:00 p.m. Interment services will be held at the National Cemetery in Canton, Ga. on Wednesday, October 9 at 2:00 p.m. Richard will be buried with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions may be made in his memory to The Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth or the Assistance League of Atlanta, in Chamblee.