Cover photo for Larry Dale Drake's Obituary
Larry Dale Drake Profile Photo

Larry Dale Drake

July 21, 1943 — November 25, 2023

Summerville

Larry Dale Drake

Larry Dale Drake, 80, most recently of Summerville, SC, passed away on Saturday, November 25, 2023, surrounded by love and assured of his eternal home with God. He had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in September, most likely from smoking in earlier years and despite having been a non-smoker for decades. 

A life remembrance service will be held on Saturday, January 20, 2024, at 1:00 pm at The Claiborne at Brickyard Crossing, the senior living facility where he lived with his devoted wife, Nieta Harris Drake, from December 2022 through his passing. The family will receive condolences beginning at noon. He is survived by Nieta, whom he loved in marriage for 45 years and who remains a resident of The Claiborne. The family is particularly grateful for the attentive, loving and " beyond the call of duty" care the entire team of The Claiborne gave to Larry and continue to give to Nieta. 

Born on July 21, 1943, in Columbus, Georgia, Larry and his mother, the late Gladys Brooks Pugh, moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where Larry would later graduate from Columbia High School in 1961. Larry had fond memories of spending his childhood summers in Columbus with his Brooks family. 

After high school, Larry enlisted in the United State Navy, attending bootcamp in San Diego and electronics school at the former Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco. Larry was then stationed at Naval Station Norfolk on the USS Cadmus, a repair and replenishment vessel that had a program of east coast and Caribbean operations. Larry's naval training in electronics formed was the foundation for his eventual career in telecommunications.

In 1966, after his honorable discharge from the Navy, Larry returned to Columbia and married the late Anna Case West, whom he had known since high school. It was then that Larry began working for Southern Bell as a lineman while Anna continued working for the company as an operator. Working full-time, Larry also pursued his Associate in Applied Science-Electronic Engineering Technology degree at Midlands Technical, which he was awarded - with honors - in 1969. 

Larry continued his studies at the University of South Carolina, pursuing a Bachelor of General Studies in Business Administration, concurrently working full-time. It was during these years that he and Anna had welcomed two children: Bonnie Drake Loomis (Chris) and Jason Tyler Drake (Ashley). Both Larry and Anna took great pride in his graduation - with honors - from USC in 1974.

His upbringing in Columbia along with his attendance at USC instilled an abiding love of all things Gamecock. He was known to attend as many homes games as possible, even after career moves took him to New Jersey, Washington, DC, Virginia, New York, and Tennessee. He was diligent to raise his children "right" as avid Gamecocks., making sure they knew they couldn't cheer for Clemson - ever, even telling Bonnie, tongue in cheek, that he would pay for her college education at any school in America except Clemson.

Through the years, Larry held positions of increasing responsibility with Southern Bell (later BellSouth) and AT&T. His rise in the company ranks was accelerated after he was awarded a Master of Business Administration degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1985. And, as was the case with his prior two degrees, he graduated with honors even though he worked full-time while pursuing his studies. 

Some of Larry's career highlights were:
- his service as moderator of the national Network Operations Forum, which brought together representatives of the telecom industry from across the country in order to identify and resolve interface issues,
- his role as statewide Operations Manager with BellSouth during Hurricane Hugo, which decimated infrastructure and required rapid restoration,
- his appointment by the US Telephone Association as the industry representative to the US Presidential Nation Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, 
-his leadership of the development and creation of the Empire State Independent Network, including creating the business plan and securing start-up funding from numerous financial organizations, 
- his election as Board Chair for the Empire State Independent Network, including leading the search for the first President/Chief Operating Officer for the Network, and
- his selection as Executive Director of the Tennessee Telecommunications Association, with which he capped a long, successful career.

During his career and after retiring, Larry enjoyed the many opportunities to be an educator that were provided to him. During his career, he led numerous training courses with telecommunications organizations. He also taught business courses at the South Carolina Central Correctional Institution, the state's facility for hardened criminals serving long-sentences.

After retirement, he was asked to serve as an adjunct instructor with the Nashville State Community College Department of Workforce and Community Development. When he and Nieta made their post-retirement move back to South Carolina, he was fortunate to work in an adjunct fashion for the College of Charleston School of Business.

Larry is survived by his wife, Nieta (who referred to her husband as "Drake," a name that almost everyone eventually began using); children, Bonnie and Jason; and stepdaughters Karen Porter Nash (Ray) and Vanesse Porter Gause (Andy).  Larry had three half-sisters, including one he was not aware of until DNA-driven genealogy connected them.  They are Susan Healy (Dale), the late Deborah West (Tom) and Nita Roberts (Jeannie).

Larry is also survived by 12 grandchildren, all of whom lovingly referred to him as their "Papa D." Loomis family grandchildren are Tyler Loomis, Joel Adams, Robert Adams and Anna Loomis. Drake grandchildren are Connor Drake, Apollo Drake and Landon Drake. Nash grandchildren are Jordan Nash (Keri), Lindsey Davis (Josh), and Kelsey Steedly (Justin). Gause grandchildren are Ally Lester (Eric) and Zoe Gause. "Papa D" took great pride in all of his grandchildren, notably his grandson, Connor, who out-sized even Papa D and followed in those large footsteps of playing high school football, like Jason. Connor now plays college football for Old Dominion University, and, in his final days, Papa D enjoyed watching the Monarchs. While his biological grandchildren do not themselves yet have children, Papa D counted among his own six great-grandchildren through his step-daughters. They are Porter Nash; Lucy Davis; Carter, Walker, and Natalie Steedly; and Abbott Lester.

Again, a life remembrance service will be held on Saturday, January 20, 2024, at 1:00 pm at The Claiborne at Brickyard Crossing, 112 Grandview Drive, Summerville, SC, 29483. The family will receive condolences beginning at noon and welcomes all attendees to come prepared to share their own remembrances of Larry during the service should they so desire.

Flowers are welcomed but the family also suggests consideration of a memorial to the Lutheran Hospice of South Carolina Foundation, 1885 Rifle Range Road, Mt. Pleasant, SC, 29464, and 843-856-4735. Larry received wonderful care and support from Lutheran Hospice in his final month of life and was proud to be being served through a ministry that reflected his primary adult church community affiliation of Lutheran. A donation to the University of South Carolina or Old Dominion University would also be fitting. Whatever you choose, just don't send it to Clemson 😊 

Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at palmettocs.com. 

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Palmetto Cremation Society, 5638 N Rhett Ave, Charleston, SC 29406, 843.722.2555.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Larry Dale Drake, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

The Claiborne at Brickyard Crossing

112 Grandview Dr, Summerville, SC 29483

Family will receive friends beginning at 12:00 PM

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