June 19, 1871-July 27, 1933
|William Winans Drake was born at Magnolia Springs, near Natchez. Miss., June 19, 1871. He passed to his eternal home in Lake Charles, La., July 27, 1933. He was buried in Shreveport, La., from Noel Memorial Church, which church he had served with eminent success for a period beyond the regular term. The service was conducted by Bishop Dobbs, assisted by brethren of the Conference. It is fitting that the last resting place of his mortal body should be in the city where he labored much and near the college he loved so well.
He was a son of Rev. William Winans Drake, a devoted member of the Mississippi Conference, and a grandson of Dr. Benjamin M. Drake, one of the most distinguished pioneer preachers of the Southwest and one of the first men to effect a permanent position for Methodism in New Orleans. Brother Drake bore the honored name of William Winans as did his father. No doubt, named for the famous Doctor Winans, the comrade of Doctor B. M. Drake in the heroic days of Methodism in Mississippi.
His mother, Mrs. Alice Gorton Drake, was a woman of extraordinary Christian character and notable for her high qualities of mind and heart and social grace, and gifted with rare administrative ability. Being left a widow in early womanhood with a family of sons, she moved to Jackson, La., when Brother Drake was nine years of age, In order to place her sons in school, and remained there until all her sons had graduated from Centenary College. Besides her own sans many other young men felt the influence of .her noble life in those college days.
Brother Drake graduated from Centenary College June 6, 1888, before he was seventeen years of age. He was licensed to preach on the seventh of January, 1888. He preached his first hermon in Benton Church, Claiborne County, Mississippi. It appears from this that he was under the influence of definite religious convictions very early In his youth, and this is what we would expect. He was reared in a home permeated with a most genuine Christian life: his mother’ s Influence every day of his life was a gospel, a witness to the truth and powei~ of a genuine Christian experience and Christian purpose In life. He indicated his steadfast religious convictions In his student daye, as a youth in Centenary College.
He was admitted on trial in the Missisippi Conference. December, 1888, and appointed to the Springfield charge, In the’ Woodvllle District. He served Bentonla charge, Jackson District, In 1889. His next appointment was to Raymond, with Rev. L. S. Jones. During this year he went to Vanderbilt University. He was ordained deacon by Bishop Charles
B. Galloway at Canton, Miss., December, 1890. He located at the Conference which met in Brookhaven, December 9, 1891, in order to attend the theological department of Vanderbilt University. In a personal letter from Dr. Thomas Carter to the writer he states that Brother Drake was a superior student in every respect.
He was re-admitted into the traveling connection in the Louisiana Conference, held at Lake Charles, La., December 14-19, 1892. Bishop Charles B. Galloway, of Mississippi, was the presiding bishop. He was ordained elder by Bishop Joseph S. Key at the Conference which met at Homer, December 17, 1893.
While stationed at Crowley, La., he was married to Miss Nora Collier, September 19, 1895, who entered fully into the great work of her devoted husband. His wife and two sons, Marlin W. and Walton C., also a brother, Dr. B. M. Drake, of Jackson, Ga., survive him.
Dr. Drake was assigned to Crowley, 1893-1896; Franklin Station, 1897-1900; Felicity Street, New Orleans, 1901-1904; presiding elder of the Crowley District, 1905; again pastor at Crowley, 1906-1908; pastor at Lake Charles, 1~09-1911; First Church, Baton Rouge, 1912-14, Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans, 1915; Minden, 1916; Noel Memorial, Shreveport, 1917-1922; presiding elder New Orleans District, 1923-1925; Ruston Station, 1926-1929; First Church, Monroe, 1930-1931; presiding elder Lake Charles District, 1932-1933. From this record it will be seen that Brother Drake had a notable ministry in the Louisiana Conference. He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Centenary College, an honor worthily bestowed and modestly worn.
From the beginning of his ministry he exhibited the qualities and characteristics that marked him as a man, a Christian and a preacher to the end of his more than forty years service: He was faithful to the details of his ministerial responsibilities. Whatever task was’ committed to him he accepted seriously and did not shrink from the inconvenience and difficulties involved. Always modest and retiring, he was, nevertheless, indefatigable In the pursuit of the task committed to him; Throughout his ministry he had this definite characteristic of steadfast devotion to duty, not as a servant~ but as a son, and one who loved the ministry of the Lord Jesus and did this work because he loved it, and felt that the love of Christ constrained him to make’ full proof of his’ ministry. He was not combative, but always took his stand on one side or the other o1~ the varied questions that arose in the developing of Conference business and Conference-wide enterprises. He was particularly effective as a member of the Conference Board of Education and gave a great deal of his time to matters relating to our schools, and especially to the more difficult problems connected with their maintenance and extension. He was wise in counsel, patient and -considerate in dealing with business matters, but adamant In his convictions of what was right and best.
He served most faithfully as trustee of Centenary College, and as President of the Conference Board of Education, and also as one of the trustees of Southern Methodist University, at Dallas, Texas, where his service was highly appreciated by the authorities of that great denominational institution. No one can speak too highly of Brother Drake’ s service in this connection. I was a member of the Board of Education when he also was an officer of the Board, and I gladly express my high appreciation of his work in that capacity. Doctor Drake rendered conspicuous service as an accredited instructor of the General Board of Education.
It was the same on any committee to which he was assigned—you could depend upon Brother Drake to be there and do his part. If elected to any office, be would accept it even though it involved heavy demands upon his time and his mind and his heart. Although quiet and retiring, he was one of the moat courageous men I ever knew. He also served as a member of the Publishing Committee of the New Orleans Christian Advocate, and was In constant demand for membership on boards and committees of his Conference.
As a pastor he excelled. I was intimately acquainted with his pastoral work in the city of New Orleans, and also in Baton Rouge. No man was ever more faithful in visiting his people and, from their testimony, he was looked upon as a man of spiritual sympathy, gracious counsel and steadfast friendship. As a preacher he was much above the average. I beard him often; his sermons were scriptural, were marked by deep spirituality and characterized by a very unusual gift In the use of effective language. Indeed, he excelled In his mastery of his mother-tongue. Whenever he wrote or spoke he exhibited this fine quality of genuine intellectual culture. During his pastorate in Baton Rouge I happened to spend several weeks there and heard him repeatedly, morning, night, and at prayer meeting, and I never heard an Inferior sermon. He was instructive, stimulating and devotionally most helpful. doubt if we have had a more successful, all-round pastor In the Louisiana Conference during the period of my association with that body In much over forty years.
Doctor Drake was a reader of good literature. Always a student, he sought, as opportunity offered, the best and the strongest literature connected with the work of the ministry. He read to purpose, knew what to assimilate and what to reject. He was well acquainted with a wide field~ of modern approach to religious doctrine and religious work. His mind was open to the new life of our day, but he remained steadfast in his devotion to the things that do not change. He was naturally gifted with a fine mind and applied himself to all the opportunities he had for improvement and the effective use of his powers in the work he loved so well.
His personal character was exceedingly attractive. He was a devoted husband and father. No one who has ever been in his home can forget his constant care for and attentive interest in every member of his household. All this was accompanied by a spirit of deep personal piety. In his early ministry he sought and obtained a deep enrichment in his Christian experience. His spiritual life throughout the years bore the abiding impress of the fact that he walked with God. He ‘was a man deeply permeated with a spirit of prayer. In his private life he prayed much; his prayers, in public were marked by a spirit of gracious devotion and intimate Intercourse with God. He struck me, always, as fundamentally a religious man.
As I look back upon a friendship begun more than fifty years ago, it seems to me that be always exhibited a high conscientiousness of purpose and an earnest desire to do the will of God, and was unfailing in his testimony to the keeping power of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was steadfast in his friendships. All who knew him cherished a conviction of the faithfulness and unselfishness of his friendship. But of this the memories of his fellow-workers bear witness, and I need not add to what all of his comrades in the ministry know so well. His last years were disturbed, at times, by ill health, but he went on cheerfully, toiling, doing his best, In season and out of season, unchanged in the daily conduct of life. He carried in ha own heart whatever burdens he had and gave to the world and his friends the cheerful word, peace and service and tireless courage. In the last months of his life he pursued the course that we would expect, not willing to yield to the infirmity of a weakened physical condition. Re toiled on as though nothing was the matter. Whatever may have been the thoughts of his heart In these last weeks, he kept it largely to himself, scattering sunshine and cheer in his home, endeavoring to spare everyone any burden or anxiety, as he always did. God gave him a buoyant and hopeful nature which triumphed by grace in all his greatest trials and sustained him during the severest burdens he was called upon to bear. During the last week of his life his strength failed rapidly. It was evident that he was conscious of the presence of Christ, and even after speech failed him he was conscious and hummed certain hymns through at different times. One was, “Close to Thee.” another, “The Light of the World is Jesus,” and there was still another great hymn in his mind and faintly on his lips as his life was ready to burst Into the new and eternal life of the unseen world. So the end came to a man who was never too tired, or too busy, to do something else when called upon. His work was a joy; his coüsecration had come to be the natural atmosphere of his life. Let us thank God for hi~ noble life and take courage, and carry on as he did.
F. N. Parker
|Source: Annual of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Pages 75-78, 1933|