Rodger K. Drake, 75, died May 2, 2023, at his home in Strong City, bravely losing a four-year battle against cancer. He was born June 10, 1947 to Gilbert and Ruth Drake in Wichita. He attended elementary school in Newton and then graduated from Sedgwick High School in 1965.
He attended the University of Kansas in the fall of 1965 before joining the United States Army in October of 1966. He was first stationed in Chicago with the Army band before heading to Vietnam for 14 months, and then honorably discharged in May of 1969. Upon returning home, Rodger returned to school, graduating from the College of Emporia in 1972 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree, specializing in instrumental music.
His earlier teaching career as a band instructor included Reading and North Lyon County school districts, and Sacred Heart in Emporia. He finished his teaching career at Chase County, starting in 1980 and retiring on May 17, 2001.
Rodger married Linda Ann Willard on June 21, 1987, in Cottonwood Falls, where they resided until moving to Strong City in 1988.
During his time at Chase County, Rodger taught grades 5-12. He started with 13 students in his high school band, fondly referred to as his “Dirty Dozen”, which grew to over 60 students at the time of his retirement. He loved taking his musicians to college band days, the Swedish Festival in Lindsborg, the Kansas State Fair as well as local parades. He worked with his bands and individual musicians to prepare for league, regional and state music festivals, where they earned many honors.
Music was Rodger’s passion, but more importantly, he enjoyed sharing that love for music with his students over the years. He was also very devoted to the Chase County All Veteran Committee, and to his “brothers” in the group. He also enjoyed following and attending NASCAR cars, especially his favorite drivers, Dale Earnhardt and Dale Jr.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his first fur baby of 16 years, Georgie.
Rodger is survived by his wife, Linda, of the home; Aron (Blythe) Dody of Council Grove, who was like a son to him, and shared his talent and love for music; and his fur baby, Caz, who was his constant companion the last five years.
Cremation will take place.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 27, at Chase County Jr.-Sr. High School. Military honors will be conducted by the United State Army Honor Guard and the local Chase County All Veteran Committee.
Memorial donations may be made to the Rodger K. Drake Memorial Scholarship or to the Chase County All Veteran Committee, in care of Brown-Bennett-Alexander Funeral Home, P.O. Box 220, Cottonwood Falls, KS 66845.
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