Otis Earl Drake took the hand of his Precious Lord and was led to his Heavenly Home on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at the age of 94. Born to Lucia Gayden and Lemuel A. Drake on Nov. 25, 1921 in the small community of North Zulch near Madisonville, he was the youngest boy of eight children.
Growing up in North Zulch provided Otis many opportunities to learn and excel and he seized these. Whether it was through academics, high school athletics, hunting and fishing in the nearby woods or helping with chores on the farm Otis was there. Always a firm believer in education and learning, he served many years on the North Zulch School Board. When in town he could often be found buying hamburgers at Mertz Cafe for local high school students.
A dedicated Mason since 1942 Otis joined the Masonic Lodge while working on a welding job in the Central American country of Panama at the age of 21 (sponsored by George Ellis). He continued as a member in good standing of Lodge #740, in Madisonville some 74 years, until his death. Asked what was the best thing about being a Mason Otis stated that he met many people while traveling on his pipeline jobs that were Masons and they always welcomed him and his family into the numerous towns in which they lived. They had a common bond.
Otis said he met the love of his life, Ruth Fannin of Madisonville, when the Army “called him up” for the draft and he went for his physical. He entered the Selective Service Draft Board Office and “sat down on her desk”. “She fell in love with me when she first saw me” Otis recounted with his family years later. Not long afterward he proposed to her on Wednesday, Nov. 24th, 1943 and they married the following Sunday. Together, they shared over 64 “joyous” years before Ruth’s passing in 2007. He was also preceded in death by his parents and all of his siblings.
Otis proudly served his country in the Asiatic Pacific Theatre during WWII. Inducted into the United States Army June 9, 1944 at Fort Sam Houston Texas (San Antonio) he served with the Headquarters & Service Company 1282nd Engineers Construction Battalion earning the rank of Corporal prior to his honorable discharge on May 14, 1946 at Fort Bliss, Texas (El Paso). He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (Otis recently recounted that his basic training lasted 2-3 weeks then he was shipped to Camp Hood in Killen, now Fort Hood for more training. He was then sent to San Francisco, CA where he shipped out under the Golden Gate Bridge on a Navy ship he could not remember the name of).
Otis and Ruth traveled through and worked in numerous states and Canada following pipeline work. He was a member of Pipefitters Local 211 in Houston. Otis retired from pipeline construction welding and inspecting in 1983. Home was always in Madison County. Until 1972 they lived on Shepherds Creek just west of North Zulch. Otis was a member of the First Baptist Church of North Zulch for many years, serving on various committees. In addition he served his community on the board of Brazos Milk Hauling Co-op, North Zulch School Board and later the Madison County Hospital Board. After their move to Madisonville in 1972, they moved their church membership to First Baptist Madisonville.
Hobbies were not a big part of Otis’s life except for gardening. He was known to have one of the most productive gardens in Madison County. Growing hundreds of pounds of vegetables annually he was more excited about sharing them with others than keeping them for himself. For this reason he continued to expand his garden every year until it consumed his entire backyard. Occasionally he was known to trap a wild hog or two and make them into sausage. Like his garden he would share the meat with those who were less fortunate or just enjoyed eating his sausage. Otis will always be remembered by friends and family as a truly remarkable man known for his generosity, integrity and loyalty.
In 2001, Otis and Ruth moved to Canyon, Texas, to be near their daughter and her family. Residing at Palo Duro Retirement Village for 14 years Otis was known to say on numerous occasions “ this is the best place for old folks to live.” He truly loved the staff and friends he made there.
2015 brought yet another move for Otis taking him to Lubbock, where his loving daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were centered around him. He was a man of faith who loved the Lord and cared deeply for his wife, daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Surviving Otis are his daughter and son-in-law, Regina and Hi Newby of Lubbock; granddaughters and their families, Amber and Jeff Carlisle, Taylor and Creed of Seminole and Summer and Justin Stracener, Ryder and Rhett of Levelland; grandsons, Bradley Fair of Depauw, Indiana and Hi Hi Newby of Lubbock; his half sister, Mildred Drake Kuykendall of North Zulch and numerous nieces and nephews.
Services were Tuesday, Oct. 18th at 11 a.m. at the Madisonville Funeral Home with burial to follow in the Rock Prairie Cemetery. Visitation was from 10 a.m. until the service begins. The Rev. Charles Higgs officiated. Serving as Active pallbearers are Hi Newby III, Gene Allphin, Paul Schroeder, Shane Neal, Carrie Stroud, Kenny Diserens and W.C. Bennett. Honorary pallbearers are Alton Diserens, David Stiver, Craig Bailey, Dr. Mac Bennett, Nolen Emert and Chase Neal.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Rock Prairie Cemetery Association c/o 590 Musgrove Road, Normangee, TX 77871 or Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, 2222 Wellborn Street, Dallas, TX 75219.
The family wishes to thank Interim Hospice and the staff of Wilshire Place for their professionalism and compassion.