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Wilfred Francis Drake

In Remembrance
October 23, 1949 – April 11, 2024


Wil Drake passed peacefully into the next life on Thursday, April 11. His Celebration of Life, Death, and Resurrection will be held on Wednesday, April 24 at 2 pm at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 210 St. Mary’s Road, Hillsborough, NC. The service will be available online through St. Matthew’s Hillsborough,, Worship Zoom Link ( . His committal and interment will be held on Thursday, April 25 at 2 pm at Maplewood Cemetery, Section 2, Duke University Road, in Durham, NC.

Wil was born on October 23, 1949, in Syracuse, NY to Weston Brownlow Drake and Detta Ursula Charlotte Euler. After marriage in Germany, his parents moved to Syracuse where his father was a graduate student. His father served first as an Army officer and then in the Agency for International Development in Afghanistan, Jordan, and Turkey.  Wil graduated from Ankara High School. He continued to meet annually with Ankara friends, “the Levi Lads,” until last September. Serving as the scribe for the group, in his notes from that gathering, he mused that likely they would not all be together again.

Wil’s undergraduate degree was conferred at Alfred University (New York).  As a law student at the College of William and Mary, he served as an editor of the Law Review and received both J.D. and L.L.M. degrees. He was first a member of the Virginia Bar and then the NC Bar and practiced law in Durham from 1979 until his death. He served in the Army Finance Corps until his honorable discharge.

A son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather, Wil also devoted his working life to helping others as an attorney, volunteer for the Durham Urban Ministries Center pantry, Red Cross van driver, and Durham Literacy reading teacher. His work gave him the life that served him long after the blindness of Retinitis Pigmentosa, had forced him to rely on his faithful staff and family to see him productively and safely through his days. His neighbors and friends recognized his refusal to give up the morning walk to the bus stop.  The #10 bus ride home was possible because his fellow riders looked after him. Even though he didn’t like his spousal chauffeuring, he tolerated it with his driest of humor and just a little annoyance. Wil lived as sustainably as he was able.

Wil is survived by his wife of a lifetime, Para Lee Rodenhizer Drake, son Weston Harry Drake (Courtney Head Drake), daughter Daria Katharine Drake (Faraz Farazmand), and son William Charles Drake (Jeanna Maines Drake). His surviving grandchildren, George Henry Drake, Samuel Louis Drake, and Rose Eleanor Drake are learning and living their Opa’s legacy of the Drake Family Code.

Wil also is survived by his sister, Daphne Hosp, niece Ethnee Hosp, and nephew Romy Hosp, of Freiburg, Germany, and brother, Fredrick L. Drake of Medina, N.Y.

Contributions may be given to The Durham Urban Ministries Center, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, The Red Cross, the Durham Literacy Council, or the good works of one’s choice to honor his legacy of a life of selfless service.

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