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DRAKE - obit - 1999

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DRAKE - obit - 1999

Bill (View posts)
Posted: 1147875897000
Classification: Obituary
Hi all,
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Thomas E. Drake, Professor Emeritus of American History at Haverford College, died in New York on January 1, 1999, at the age of 91. At the family meeting following his death, John Spielman read the following: "A native Californian, Tom graduated from Stanford University then completed a doctorate in history at Yale in 1937. That year he joined the faculty of Haverford College as curator of the Quaker collections and professor of American history. He served those double duties with patience and energy for 25 years until a threatening illness prompted him to retire early in 1962. He and William Lunt together were the history department, with the occasional presence of someone to teach a course when one or the other was on leave. When Professor Lunt retired in 1955, Tom also took on the job of chairing the department, a task that he usually performed over lunch with Wallace MacCaffrey once a month at the now defunct Viking restaurant in Ardmore. When I joined these seances in 1959 I found that they involved a focused discussion of the progress of every major in the department, a concern for students that Tom never relaxed. As a scholar Tom focused on Quaker history particularly as it touched the sensitive topic of race relations and slavery. His most important work was a book arising from his dissertation, Quakers and Slavery in America, published in 1950 by Yale University Press. Before that he had published several articles including 'Elihu Coleman, Quaker Antislavery Pioneer of Nantucket' in 1944, and the same year 'William Penn's Experiment in Race Relations' in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History. 'Joseph Drinker's Plea for the Admission of Colored People to the Society of Friends' appeared in 1945. Beyond that were a large number of submissions in various Quaker publications, encyclopedias, reviews, and the like. After retiring from active teaching and curatorial work, Tom continued for a number of years to be an important presence in the history department, opening his lovely house and its grounds in Bryn Mawr to annual departmental picnics and other festivities. The construction of the Blue Route near their home sent the Drakes to New York, and contact became more intermittent. I believe his last visit to the campus was three years ago this spring. All who knew him remember him as a sociable, courtly gentleman who rarely, if ever, lost his aplomb. The Drakes' legendary New Year's Eve feasts were devoted to literary presentations by participants; at other times they would bring together an audience for a more ambitious reading, as one memorable occasion when Arnold Post read his recent translation of a Greek comedy 'The Curmudgeon.' Tom was a Quaker to the core, but he did not believe that virtue had to be drab and dull. His legacy to the College is around us everywhere, in the Treasure Room of the library, in a history department that he forced to cross the English channel, in his cultivation of better relations between the races here and in the Society of Friends, and perhaps most of all in vivid memories of a gentle man who was a generous friend and mentor." He is survived by two sons, Thomas Hoyt Drake of Auckland, New Zealand, and Daniel Williams Drake of New Canaan, Connecticut. He also had six stepchildren by his marriage to Constance Drake, as well as two stepdaughters by his marriage to Elizabeth Drake. He is survived by 23 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

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