Frank Edward Draeger, born August 19, 1921 in San Antonio, Texas, to Frank Draeger and Julia Haas, passed away at 91 years old in Petersburg, Alaska on April 15, 2013, following a long illness.
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Frank came to California with his family at age 16 and never went back. He took a job in the 20th Century Fox theater lots working as a carpenter until he joined the Marines in 1942. Much of Frank's almost 4 years in the service were spent in the South Pacific and were the building blocks of many of his stories. Upon his discharge in 1945, Frank married his wife of 50 years, Viola Tonn. They lived in the Los Angeles area until moving to Lodi in 1960 with their 3 sons. Frank loved the outdoors, would take his family camping and fishing as often as he could, and always seemed to have a small four-legged companion at his side. He enjoyed being a leader of Pathfinders (a church youth group) where he would entertain with his many wonderful nature stories. Later, he enjoyed traveling the USA with his wife in their travel-trailer, twice, and several times they ventured to Alaska. Frank was a "Builder" working with his brother C. L. Jones as an estimator, draftsman, Site Foreman and partner in the firm until he retired. However, Frank continued to draft plans throughout most of the rest of his life, and built his own home in Kyburz, CA where he lived until 1996 when he moved to enjoy beautiful Alaska, 12 miles outside of Haines, on Lutak Bay. This is where he was able to fully enjoy nature's beauty and bounty! Frank was an accomplished cook, winning the Haines Rodeo Chili Cook-off with his "Snakebit" Chili (and boy, was it hot!!). Catching, smoking and canning salmon became his passion culminating with the publishing of the book "Frank's Smoked Canned Salmon". Frank married his second wife, Evelyn Wadley, a fishing pal, in 2001 and they fished happily ever after.
Frank always had a smile for the ladies and respect for the gents. His kindnesses and generosity touched many strangers' hearts, from buying breakfast and a bus ticket for a vagabond to sharing his smoked salmon and a glass of wine with visitors to Haines. Frank was known for being fair as he would listen to all sides of an issue yet form his own opinions, and he held to the importance of family, country, and his faith in God.
Frank was preceded in death by his first wife Viola, his brother Clarence Jones, and sisters Cleo Young and Cecille Vickers.
He is survived by his wife Evelyn, of Haines; his 3 sons, Jim (and Mary Ann) of Sacramento, John (and Claire) of Discovery Bay/Santa Cruz, and Jay (and Maggie) of Folsom; 4 grandchildren, Shawn, Jeff, Jay, and Julie; and 3 great-grandchildren, Sam, Cole and Ashley.
A memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm Friday, April 26, 2013 at Cherokee Memorial Park's Evergreen Chapel, in Lodi, CA.
Published in Lodi News-Sentinel from Apr. 23 to Apr. 30, 2013