WILMER L. DRAKE
Manhattan Beach Resident For 92 years
On May 14, Wilmer Lester Drake passed away at a local hospital after a brief illness. Final services will be held at 11:00 AM on Monday the 20th of May at the White and Day Mortuary in Manhattan Beach. Our dad was a well- known local historian, who was a docent for many years with the Manhattan Beach Historical Society. Additionally, he conducted informative walking tours for both adults and school children. He was a man who gave freely of his time to his fellow citizens, having been a scout leader and Little League coach long after his own children were raised. For these accomplishments, he was honored several times as being the 'Man of the Year' by both the city and country of Los Angeles, along with having been awarded the prestigious 'Rose and Scroll' award from the local Neptunian Club. Dad was born to Seth Hammond and Eunice Maud (Sehring) Drake, on October 27, 1917 at Marseilles, Illinois. This community is where his mother's family had settled in the 1840's. His great grandfather, Elijah H. Spicer served in the Illinois Legislature and would introduce his friend, Abraham Lincoln, at his debate with Stephen Douglas, in 1858 at nearby Ottawa. In 1920, Dad moved with his family to Manhattan Beach, following their grandparents, Jesse L. and Mary F. (Hammond) Drake who had settled there several years earlier, coming from Dodge City, Kansas. He attended Center Street School before going to Redondo Union High School where he graduated in the class of 1935. In the late 1920's, he built his first surfboard which gave him many enjoyable summers during his teen years. In 1942, he enlisted in the military where he served in the Army Air Corps. On April 12, 1943 he was united in marriage, at Walla Walla Washington, to another Manhattan Beach native, Betty, who passed on seven years ago. This union produced four children; Hon. Raymond of Colorado, Larry of Torrance, Don of Arizona, and a daughter, Diane of Hawthorne. Also surviving are four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Dad was preceded in death by a brother and sister and is survived by his youngest sister, Betty Saunders. Also, he is survived by his close childhood friend, Pat Cunningham, of Manhattan Beach. In addition to his volunteer work, Dad had a lifelong love of music and often enjoyed singing. This was due in no small part to his family background as his father's ancestors were the founders, in the year 1833, of Oberlin College. He was a man who was descended from Colonial, Revolutionary, and Pioneer/Frontiersmen stock. Most of his paternal ancestors arrived, in the New World, between 1609 and 1630. On his maternal side, he was descended from several of the original 1620 passengers on the Mayflower. During the American Revolution he had 12 ancestors who served as soldiers in that conflict including four who were officers in both the Continental Line and Navy. Two of his family, Mathew Brown of Pennsylvania and Col. Jacob Drake of New Jersey would help write the constitutions for their respective states.
After the Revolution his family were in the vanguard of the Western movement, initially settling in Ohio, where they founded the city of Mount Vernon, before moving west to Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas, eventually arriving in California. Moreover, his Hammond and McCormick ancestors were among the founding families, in 1830, of the city of Chicago foregoing clearly shows a man whose heritage was deeply rooted in the American experience. The important thing to remember is that our dad was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, in addition to being a successful man who freely gave of himself to the community which he so dearly loved...