Beverly Francke Austin Drake
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March 2, 1920
February 8, 2013
A kindly "schoolmarm" entered life in Staten Island, NY, March 2, 1920, child of Harry and Emma Francke, moved to the Truckee Meadows after graduating from college with her new husband Tom Austin, raised a brood of three strapping boys on a humble Wedekind Road farm, kindled hundreds of Reno and Sparks school children at early elementary schools, and commenced an exciting life as a world traveler on her retirement in 1976 and marriage to Herbert N Drake. Beverly Austin Drake ended her earthly travels on February 8, 2013, to begin a restful and well-deserved journey beyond our own horizons.
Beverly attended schools in Staten Island and graduated from Hunter College of CUNY in 1941 with a degree in Education. Excitement filled her heart with her first assignment at a highly regarded private preparatory school, the Kinderhook Academy, in Kinderhook, NY. In 1944 she met and married Tom Austin, from Oelrichs, South Dakota, who had been a cowboy in various parts of the West. Tom enticed her to move from the big cities to the open spaces and clear skies out West. Two trunks held all their possessions as they boarded the transcontinental train westbound in 1945, destination unknown; they stepped off the train in the Truckee Meadows where Tom had briefly worked as a hand on a dude ranch. It became home.
To support a small farm on Wedekind Road overlooking ranches that extended beyond the Truckee River, Beverly took the only job she could find as a telephone operator at the Bell Telephone Company of Nevada until she was accepted as a substitute teacher for the Reno School District. Her first full-time teaching position in the area was a Kindergarten teacher at Mt Rose School under Mamie Towles and with teaching pals Virginia Palmer and Andrea Pelter. After several years at Mt Rose, she touched the young lives of hundreds more children at Veterans Memorial and Lena Juniper elementary schools. In the '60's Beverly taught the first federal "Head Start" program in Nixon, Nevada. During her teaching career Beverly completed a Masters degree in Library Science and worked to incorporate libraries into Washoe County School District schools.
In 1976, after thirty years in classrooms and after the death of Tom, Beverly retired and married Herbert N Drake, a good friend and neighbor on Wedekind Road. Herb had just retired after 49 years with the Southern Pacific Railroad; with energy and great health in their veins, the two began the adventures of their lives booking frequent flights and freighter trips around the world and relaxing in their favorite spots in Montana.
After Herb's death in 1998, Beverly continued her adventures with friends and former school teachers. She was a lifetime member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honor society of women educators. Both Herb and Beverly were dedicated supporters of the Sparks Heritage Museum.
Beverly was predeceased by her parents and sister Marilyn Evans from Delaware. She is survived by her sons and their wives, Robert and Donna, Bill and Karen of Sparks and Kenneth and Suzie of El Paso, Texas, stepdaughter and her husband Rilla and Rocky Brooks of Vya, NV, grandchildren Kenneth Austin and Leslie Austin-Kraus, a great grandchild Austin Kraus, and a number of step grand and great grandchildren. These were her direct family whom she loved dearly; yet her outside family consisted of the thousands of children's whose lives touched mutually in the classrooms and hallways of Washoe County School District.
The family extends its gratitude to Manor Care Health Center in Sparks, St Mary's Hospice Care, and to her granddaughter Jamie who cared for Beverly before entering Manor Care. A service will be held at Walton Funeral Home, 875 W Second St, Reno, NV, at 10:00 am, Thursday, February 14. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, or the Nevada Scottish Rite Foundation.
Walton's Sierra Chapel, Reno
875 West 2nd Street
Reno, NV 89505
Published in Reno Gazette-Journal from Feb. 12 to Feb. 14, 2013