Tributes & Stories

 

Obituary (CA): Mrs. Billie (William D. Drake '52)

Posted on 04/23/2018

Billie Ruth Adwell Drake (November 27, 1929 - April 16, 2018)

Billie Ruth Adwell Drake, a retired San Diego schoolteacher, Navy wife and mother of six, passed away April 16, 2018, at the home of her eldest daughter, Cynthia Drake Owens, in Oxford, N.C. She was 88.Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., to William A. and Gertrude F. Adwell, Billie Ruth grew up in Birmingham, Ala., where she worked in her parent's bakery and was a teen beauty queen. In 1951, she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Alabama, where she was a member of Phi Mu sorority and was voted Dreamgirl of Lambda Chi 1948. In 1951, she won the title of Miss Alabama Lion's Club and came in second place in the national pageant. She was also one of six Alabama beauties selected to model as vestal virgins for a mural at the now-demolished Vestavia Temple & Gardens in Vestavia Hills, Ala.After earning her teaching credential, Billie Ruth worked as an elementary school teacher from 1951 to 1954, when she married U.S. Naval Academy graduate William D. Drake, who would rise to the rank of Commander during his 25-year Navy career. Their marriage endured 58 years until his death on January 1, 2013.Billie put her teaching career on hold to raise six children through many cross-country moves that concluded in San Diego in 1970, where she worked as an elementary school teacher from the late 1970s until her retirement in 2002. A lifelong learner, she earned her master's degree in psychology from U.S. International University in 1988 at the age of 60. For nearly 15 years, she waged a brave battle with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Billie is survived by her six children: Cynthia of Oxford; Karen E. Merrill of Durham, N.C.; Laurence W. Drake of Oxford, N.C.; Pamela D. Kragen of Vista, CA; David F. Drake of Menifee, CA; and Theodore C. Drake of San Mateo, CA. She is also survived by sons-in-laws Olsie Owens, David Merrill and Jim Griffith; daughter-in-law Ricki L. Drake, and eight grandchildren: William, Melinda, Rebecca and Christina Merrill; Matt and Aubrey Kragen; and Meghan and Madison Drake; as well as one great-grandchild, Emma Jean Merrill; one granddaughter-in-law, Courtney King-Merrill and brother Don Adwell of Tampa, Fla. Billie will be interred with her husband at Miramar National Cemetery. A memorial service is planned at 10 a.m. May 4 at the cemetery's covered pavilion at 5795 Nobel Drive, San Diego. Miramar Memorial Services is handling arrangements.

Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Apr. 22, 2018