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sail on


sail on

I am very sad to report that Doug Drake, past-President and current Treasurer of the 470 class, father, architect, tireless volunteer and with team-mate and son Jared, a top small boat racer, passed away at the age of 85.

Doug’s sailing career spanned 7 decades and began as a Chicago kid when his brother proposed buying a Snipe before either had ever set foot on a sailboat.

Friends will remember Doug as a tiny giant — soft-spoken and humble but massively energetic and effective — a fiery champion of sailing and the penultimate role model mentor. He, along with a small cadre of sailing friends, had the vision and the skills to negotiate a cheap, long-term lease on shoreside public land to create the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center (MCSC) 35 years ago. From there, he donated decades of his spare time to recruit and teach new sailors of all ages — a legacy that has influenced the lives of thousands.

Doug and son Jared were honored last March as MCSC’s co-Sailor’s of the Year, for their combined lifetimes of sailing advocacy, and for setting a fine example of family sailing in action. As a team, they competed in National and World competitions and four pre-Olympic Trials.

A service celebrating Doug’s life will be held at the First Unitarian Church, 1342 North Astor Street, at 4 PM Thursday, August 19. The next night, August 20, a sailing flotilla will leave from the South Shore Yacht Club at 18:00 to sail to the Milwaukee Bay Bell Buoy in honor of Doug. 

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports: “Doug is survived by Thallis, his wife of 53 years; two daughters, Alexis (Milwaukee) and Victoria (Lonnie Coplen) (New York City); his son, Jared (pictured with Doug above), a sister, Jean Schneider (Houston); his brother Jim’s widow, Barbara (Milwaukee); three nephews and a niece.  Memorials to the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center would seem most fitting.”

– Nicholas Hayes