Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Gordon Murray Draper
Gordon was one of my Dad's cousins. Today would have been his 76th Birthday so I just felt like remembering him. He was Class President, voted "Most Likely to Succeed" and graduated one of the Top 10 Class of 1955 at Bremerton High School. He is mentioned (and I think probably in the photograph) of the Phi Delta Theta news November 1955 (17 years old) as one of the "top men" new pledge of Phikeias of Washington Beta at Whitman College. (PDF page 145 on The Scroll of Phi Delta Theta)
July 7, 1958 the twenty year old was driving home from the east coast with four others. Four of them had left Whitman in May to attended a Columbia University camp for engineering students in Connecticut. They had hoped to find summer work in Chicago before starting their studies at Columbia in the fall. When they couldn't find work, they picked up one of the men's soon-to-be fiancee and headed home - Gordon told his mother (my Grandmother's sister) they would drive straight through taking two hour turns driving so they wouldn't get too tired.
Shortly after 1:00 am, a firetruck was returning from a false alarm. There was some evidence that the truck driver had been drinking but the blood alcohol level was not at the legally drunk level. Witnesses said the truck was in the oncoming lane preparing to make a turn when the collision happened. Gordon Murray Draper (20), Dick Amundsen (19), Jan Borseth (20) were dead. Laurel Boniface (18) - Jan's fiancee and Victor Eugene Langdon (21) were injured (Laurel quite seriously).
A very sad ending to some very promising lives. I would love to know whatever happened to Miss Boniface and Victor E. Langdon. I hope they are living long happy lives.
Gordy's brother wrote me about him a while ago - his brother was shy when he was young but really blossomed in high school becoming very active in many circles. He said people mostly knew him for his science and math skills. However he recalled how brilliantly Gordy could debate almost anything (particularly with his father), and how deeply he cared for people. His brother felt he might have ended up as a minister or a statesman where he could help people. His brother knew he could play the trumpet but one Christmas break when the boys were home from college, they were enjoying a day in Downtown Bremerton with their mother when Gordy dragged them in to a music store, sat down at a Grand piano and played a flawless concerto. A crowd gathered and applauded when he finished and his brother thought he'd play an encore but Gordy just grinned, stood up and went to the nearby drugstore for a bag of popcorn.
You were taken much too soon - thinking of you today Cousin Gordy . . .