Phyllis Culbertson Draper
Phyllis Culbertson Draper died on Thursday at the age of 87. She was the longest-surviving patient of the Parkinson's Institute, having had the disease for 35 years. The secret to her success, she claimed, was a daily two-mile walk, which she undertook until very recently.
She was born in Buffalo, NY, graduated from Smith College in 1953, and later received her Masters in Early Childhood Education from San Francisco State. In the 1980s, Phyllis worked for the head of the Peace Corps in Washington, DC. She served for many years on the boards of Save the Children, the Charles Armstrong School, the Children's Health Council of Palo Alto, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. She is the author of two published books of essays and poetry. Many of the poems honor friends and family.
Shortly after college, she married William H. Draper,III whom she met on a ship to Europe while wearing the engagement ring of another man. After only three days on the ship, Bill acted quickly and asked Phyllis to marry him "instead of the other guy." He was encouraged because, "Well, she didn't say NO." Phyllis and Bill were married for almost 65 years.
Phyllis is remembered for her whip-smart, nimble mind, her quick laugh and huge smile, her love of dachshunds above all other dogs, her effortless grace in all situations, her ability to discover the best in all whom she met, and her lifelong passions for reading, travel, art, Cole Porter, and the theater. Her eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren called her Grammy, and she called them perfect.
In her last years, her tremendous strength engendered strength in others, and she served as a role model to many hundreds struggling with their own challenges. She was brave, spirited, and engaged in life to the very end of it. Her three children— Becky, Polly, and Tim Draper —could not be prouder of her.
(The family suggests memorial contributions be sent to SAVE THE CHILDREN.)
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Jan. 27 to Jan. 30, 2018.