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Melvin "Chopper" Draeger, 93, of Oconto, passed away Friday, April 19, 2013 at Sun Valley Homes II. Born in Oconto, Wisconsin on November 14 1919, Chopper attended Oconto schools and graduated in 1937. The following year, he joined the Company "C" of the Wisconsin National Guard 127th infantry, 32nd division. Drafted into World War II on December 7, 1942 into the 106th cavalry regiment, he served as regimental bugler. Later transferred to 343th Military Police Company, he served in the Pacific theater for 28 months, and was stationed on New Caldonia, Guadacanal, New Guinea, Luzon, and Japan. He served 39 months without a furlough, for a total of four years before being honorably discharged. Following his service, he was Commander of the VFW Post in Oconto, a member of Post 74 of the American Legion, and a life member of Cloverland post of the Disabled American Veterans.
Chopper married Rosemary Carriveau on February 8, 1955. He worked for the Oconto Milling Company for 41 years, 28 of those as manager, secretary and treasurer. Active in local affairs, he served on the Oconto City Council, chaired the Board of Public Works, was president of the City Parks Board, and the City Health Officer. After retirement in 1978, he moved to Tipler, Wisconsin with his wife, Rosemary, where he served as Town Chair for one term and worked part-time in various positions for Town of Tipler. After 18 years, he and Rosemary returned to Oconto.
Chopper played trumpet in many area dance bands, besides playing "TAPS" for civic programs and military funerals for many decades. He loved to tinker, fish, and hunt. He was a long-time Packer season ticket holder and avid fan having attended games since the age of 12. His friends and family will remember his exceptional memory and fascinating stories of the people and places of Oconto's past.
His parents, father William C. Draeger and mothers Inez Toole and Mildred Leda, preceded him in death. He was the last surviving among his siblings H. J. "Jim" Draeger and Lois [Draeger] Melody Fulton. He was preceded in death by son, Sigurd Charles Fornell of Appleton. He is survived by four children: Carolyn (Don) Walsh of Green Bay, Mary Lade (Bruce Mommaerts) of Oconto, Jim (Cindy) Draeger of Monona, WI; and Susan (Curt) Coker of Cleveland, OH; along with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The family received relatives and friends at the Gallagher Funeral Home, Oconto, from 10 AM to 12 Noon Monday, April 22, 2013. Funeral services were conducted 12 Noon Monday at the funeral by Kathy Schroeder. Military Rites by Jones Modrow Young American Legion Post #74. Online condolences may be expressed at www.gallagherfuneralhome.net.
Published in Oconto County Reporter on May 1, 2013