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1945 - 2018 Obituary Condolences

LAKELAND - Carol Drake, 73, of Lakeland, Florida, died at home on September 2, 2018, surrounded by family.
Carol was born on June 18, 1945, in New York City, the first child of the late Edward and Mary Carapezza. When she was ten, her father's position as a mechanic for Pan American Airlines moved the family to Turkey, then Germany, and in her senior year of high school, to Dover, Delaware. She graduated from the University of Maryland School of Nursing in 1968, before serving for two years in the United States Army as a Captain in the Nursing Corp. She requested to be stationed first in Thailand, so that she could marry Francis Drake, her husband now of almost fifty years. In 1974, they moved to Lakeland with their two young children, Michael and Cathleen. Her early overseas experiences instilled a life-long love of travel.
Carol worked as a nurse in the emergency room at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, before earning her master's degree in nursing at the University of South Florida in 1992. She returned to work as an advanced registered nurse practitioner, and for the last twenty-four years of her life cared for Polk County Health Department HIV/AIDS patients.
A devout Catholic, she recalled dedicating herself to becoming a nun at the age of twelve, consuming only bread and water for several weeks. She was a member of St. Joseph's Church where she is known for her faith, friendship, and her beautiful collection of vintage hats.
She devoted herself fully to whatever endeavor she took on, leading PTA's at her children's schools; keeping her daughter's girl scout troop together; serving for several years as head of the Catholic War Veterans; organizing off-the-beaten-path international adventures for her family; and showering her grandchildren with love, kisses, stories, music, wisdom, cards, and treats.
As a nurse practitioner, she cared for over three hundred patients with expertise and compassion -- even baking weekly batches of cookies to share at office visits. Although she never shared her famous cookie recipe outside the family (a benefit to marrying into it), she baked cookies for anyone who might need them, which to her meant just about everyone. In fact, to Carol, everyone always benefited from dessert, which she made sure to order before dinner in case the restaurant should run out. She was a long-time supporter of Bok Tower Gardens, in particular of their Children's Garden. She was recently selected to serve on the board of visitors of the University of Maryland School of Nursing.
She is survived by her husband, Francis; son Michael (of Oakland, California); daughter Cathleen Drake Nelson (of Lakeland); Michael's wife Corii Liau and their children Violet and Willow Drake; and Cathleen's husband Joshua and their children Sophia, Ezra, and Ada Nelson.
She is survived also by her brothers Edward Carapezza (Marsha Brown) of Ashaway, Rhode Island, and Dennis Carapezza (Karen) of Wellsville, Pennsylvania.
She is admired by her friends, patients, and people all over Lakeland, many of whom know her for her unique sense of style, sense of humor, and warmth. Her family is known largely as being related to 'the woman with the bun who walks the lake.' She is adored by her family, to whom she gave enough love for several lifetimes, adventures they will never forget, and an exemplar of courage, generosity, open-mindedness, and creativity.
Services will be held at St. Joseph's Church in Lakeland on Thursday, September 13, 2018, at 10:30 am. A reception in her memory will be held in the Tribute Center at Heath Funeral Chapel on Thursday, September 13, 2018, from 4 - 6 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bok Tower Gardens at 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales, FL 33863; or to The University of Maryland School of Nursing at 655 W. Lombard St, Baltimore, MD 21201.
Condolences may be sent to the family at heathfuneralchapel.com
Published in Ledger from Sept. 11 to Sept. 12, 2018
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