Thomas Walter Drake, 87, passed on December 27, 2020 in The Villages, Florida. He was born September 18, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Walter and Vlasta Drake.
Tom grew up in Naperville, Illinois, attending Central High School and excelling in sports as an all-state track and field athlete; he was also recruited to play football for the University of Notre Dame. He instead chose to attend North Central College in his hometown where he became a track star who held several school records. He graduated with a degree in engineering.
After a 2 year stint in the Army, stationed in San Antonio, Texas, he joined Kaydon Corporation in Muskegon, Michigan and worked for the company for 37 years as a sales engineer and Vice President, splitting the majority of that time between Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois.
While still working for Kaydon, and living in Northeast Ohio during the late ‘60s, Tom joined together with his best friend for a business venture; they purchased a limousine company that transported travelers from Akron-Canton area hotels to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
After retiring from Kaydon in 1996, and living in Indianapolis, Tom ventured into his next business as co-owner of “A Cut Above Beauty College,” in Southport, Indiana with his wife Charlene Butler. During that time, he had myriad titles including: company president, chief janitor, as well as the school’s soda machine engineer, a.k.a. the refill guy. Whenever he visited, students could tell why he was there by what he was carrying: record books, a mop and bucket or a two-wheeler filled with Coke & Pepsi.
A few years later, Tom and Charlene pulled up stakes and moved to The Villages in 2000. During his twenty plus years in the community, he was not only a longtime member of the Water Buffalos, but also a member of his neighborhood group, The 26ers, a former member of the men’s glee club (Brothers in Song) as well as a devotee of the North Lake Presbyterian Church. He also participated several times in the Florida Senior Games, and won the gold medal in the 2005 high jump. With this victory, he proved once again that his track and field skills were still top notch.
His passions in The Villages included playing golf, attending concerts and cooking for family, friends and their many guests. Meanwhile, outside The Villages, Tom and Charlene were both passionate about travel. They traveled extensively all over the world, and he loved putting pins in his world map whenever he visited a new destination.
Tom is survived by his wife, Charlene Butler-Drake; Sister, Joan Wicklas; Children: Chip (Pamela) Drake, Debbie Drake, Cheryl Drake, Janine (Jerry) France, Jackie (Dawn) Butler, Jeff Harding, John (Neesha) Butler;
Grandchildren: Brandyn Gardner, Brittany Gardner, Jenna (Ryan) Myers, Carly Butler, Rebecca Harding, Myles Harding, Wil Butler-Croutwater; Great Grandchildren: Hazel Harding, Hunter Harding, Charlene Myers.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. He will be interned at the memorial gardens at North Lake Presbyterian Church.
In lieu of flowers, his family asks for donations in Tom’s honor to Operation Homebound a ministry at North Lake Presbyterian Church. Www.northlakepc.org/ministries/operation-homebound