William Howard Draper, aged 84 years, passed away October 23, 2019 in Hudson, Florida with his wife and youngest son close by. He was born May 5, 1935 in Darien, New York, the son of Ralph and Agnes Draper. His friends and family knew him as Bill or â€œGunnyâ€.
Bill joined the United States Marine Corps at 17 years old and found himself on the frigid battlefield of Korea as a young man. He went on to serve in Vietnam, fighting in the highly volatile DMZ border region between the North and South as part of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. Despite some lasting injuries and shrapnel under his skin, he made it out with his life. For his time in those two conflicts, he earned a number of decorations, including the Bronze Star with Valor, the Purple Heart, Navy Commendation Medal with Valor, Navy Achievement Medal with Valor, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal (6 times), Presidential Unit Citation, and the Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation. He retired at the rank of Gunnery Sergeant.
After the Marine Corps, Bill continued his life of public service, earning an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and serving as a Sheriffâ€™s Deputy in Niagara County, New York and later for the New York State Department of Labor. Upon retiring to Florida, he did not slow down, taking a job at Innisbrook Golf Resort to stay busy and support his golfing habit. He joined the Marine Corps League Detachment 567 in Holiday, Florida where he reconnected with brothers-in-arms and made lifelong friends.
At MCL 567, he served as a member of the Honor Guard, as Sergeant at Arms, and a member of the Military Order of Devil Dogs. Bill Draper gave a blank check for his life to the United States government and did whatever his country asked of him. He loved the Marine Corps, playing golf, and watching the Tampa Bay Rays. He loved his wife and cared deeply about his friends and family. He lived a life of public service and honor. His sense of humor and charm left a lasting impression on all who knew him. He was beloved by many and he will be greatly missed.
Bill is survived by his wife of 34 years, Janice Ann Draper and his children William (Christine) Draper of Burlington KY, Dennis (Pattie) Draper of Rochester, NY, Laura (David) St. John of Bessemer City, NC, David Draper of Niagara Falls, NY, and Blake Draper (Megan Adams) of McFarland, WI; his stepdaughter Autumn (Michael) Luedke; 6 grandchildren: Chelsea Draper, Philip Draper, Geoffrey Hodge, Helen Draper, Lily Draper, and Jackson Drussell; and 2 great-grandchildren: Avery and Leyla; 2 sisters: Jean Rice and Virginia Rice.
Cindy Woodring (Niece)
November 2, 2019, 12:00 am
Rest in peace Uncle Billy. Loved all of your US Marine stories. WhooRah. Didn't know that you were named after Dad..give him my love ðŸ˜˜