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FRANK DONALD DRAKE

May 28, 1930—September 2, 2022

Frank Drake died peacefully at home in Aptos, California on September 2, of natural causes. He was 92.


My Papa D was beloved by many, and for many reasons, but above all, today I celebrate his humanity, his tenderness, his gentle spirit. A titan in life, Dad leaves a titanic absence. He was special to many of you, so on behalf of everyone whose lives he touched: We love you, Dad. You loved us, you taught us, you guided us. Ad astra, my sweet Papa D. The stars are lucky.

Frank is survived by his wife of 44 years, Amahl Shakhashiri Drake; daughters Nadia Drake (Scott Ransom), and Leila Drake Fossek (Chris Fossek); from a previous marriage, sons Steve Drake, Richard Drake (Alice Moore) and Paul Drake (Ellen Sullivan); daughters-in-law Mary and Kim; grandchildren Cruz Drake Fossek, Elizabeth Harris Drake, Spencer Drake and Grace Drake; nieces and nephew Elizabeth Reynolds, Jim and Susan Quigley; brother Bob Drake; and siblings-in-law Bassam and Maha Shakhashiri. He was preceded in death by his sister Alma Quigley.

If you are moved to do something kind in Frank's memory, we’d love for donations in his name to go to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (or your local crisis center). For nine years, Dad volunteered as a suicide prevention counselor, working the overnight shift in Ithaca, NY. He didn’t talk about those times very much, but when he did, he said they were the most important hours of his life—and his greatest accomplishment. I can picture him quietly talking people through the worst moments of their lives, helping them see another sunrise. That’s who he was. He cared so much about people he’d never meet, and he loved life so much that he needed to help us love it too—if even just a tiny bit more.

“My husband Frank was a great human being—I really could write pages about him, but maybe that’s a job for later. His professional greatness was well-documented and known publicly. Being married to him, I began to notice his greatness on a much smaller scale—how he treats his family, his gentleness, his kindness, his witticism, his tenderness, and above all, his boyish love of life and how he projects excitement to everybody around him.”

— Amahl Drake

"My sweet dad was a beautiful human. He lived life with curiosity and humility, was a master storyteller and a deep thinker, and had a gentle, loving spirit that was expressed through patience, humor, and great care for humanity. He taught me about altruism, he always ate dessert with a small spoon so that it would last longer, he was always there to help and give advice. He loved this planet and all its magical intricacies, and he loved the endless possibilities that the universe around us inspires. A true renaissance man with a heart of gold, he savored life just as he savored dessert, and we all savored life with him. He is already profoundly missed, and will always be greatly admired.”

— Leila Drake Fossek

 
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NADIA DRAKE

Science Journalist

 
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ABOUT

Nadia Drake is a freelance science journalist and contributing writer at National Geographic. She specializes in covering astronomy, astrophysics and planetary science, as well as anything involving jungles and spiders. Her byline has also appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American, Nature, Wired, and Science News, among other publications. Nadia frequently hits the road in search of stories and has reported from the jungles of Peru and Indonesian Borneo, the Arctic Ocean, Mars-on-Earth, a flying telescope, the deserts of the Middle East, and the slumping glaciers at Mt. Kilimanjaro's summit.

Nadia has a PhD in genetics, from Cornell University, and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. When she's not working, Nadia is probably tasting sparkling wine, clinging to the side of a rock face, or snuggled up with her pup.

Photo by Christopher Michel.

 
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