Sharing sad news regarding the passing of President Emeritus George A. Drake ’56.


Photo courtesy Grinnell College

I write today to share the sad news of the passing on Saturday of one of our College’s most remarkable members: President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus George Drake ’56. For the great many Grinnellians who knew George Drake, this news will bring great sadness.

Professor Drake held many titles at Grinnell College: student, athlete, intern, sabbatical replacement, soccer coach, trustee, president, historian, and professor. He filled each role with great warmth, joy, grace, faith, and a humbleness that belied his remarkable intellect.

His unofficial titles give a fuller measure of Professor Drake’s life: Husband, devoted family man, friend, mentor, colleague, adviser, author, volunteer, inspiration, and Grinnell College icon.

Professor Drake was a wonderful friend to so many, and was tremendously kind to me as I assumed my responsibilities at the College. What he did for me, he did for countless others. I will be forever grateful for his support, insights, and mentorship.

We mourn his passing along with his family. Please keep George’s wife, Sue Ratcliff Drake ’58, and their family in your thoughts. George and Sue had three children, Christopher (daughter-in-law Kay), Cindy (her partner, Lou), and Melanie Drake ’92 (son-in-law Tom Wickersham ’90); and six grandchildren, Nicholas (his wife, Jenny), Elizabeth, Hannah Drake ’18, Danielle, Lila, and Samantha Drake-Flam ’25. Among other family members who are Grinnell alumni, George also was the uncle of Mitch Erickson ’72; and great-uncle of Emma L. Drake ’02Susanna Drake ’00 and Carl J. Erickson ’11.

Most sincere condolences are extended to George Drake’s family and friends, and to all who were touched by his life. The void left by his passing is exceeded only by his legacy and the lasting impact that his life had — and will continue to have. 

Information about memorial plans, and ways to share tributes to his legacy as a beloved Grinnell icon and special member of our community, will be shared when available.

The world is an immeasurably better place because of George Drake’s 88 remarkable years of life. 

With gratitude,

Anne F. Harris 
Grinnell College


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