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An abundant life

FRISCO – George Drake lives on Drake’s Haven in Bill’s Ranch. He bought an acre of land there for $100 in 1946 and began building his 18-by-24-foot cabin in 1950. Tax assessors now appraise his house at $500,000.

The 86-year-old Frisco resident calls his home his haven because though he lives in the middle of a booming county – which he’s watched transform from meadows and bare mountaintops to housing developments and bustling ski areas – his neighborhood still has the look and feel of the country. A stream runs through his land, which amounts to three-and-a-third acres since he bought the remaining acreage in 1962 for $2,600. From his kitchen window, he watches the “papa” and the “mama” ducks in the spring as they swim in the pond and raise their ducklings, protecting them from lurking muskrats.

Drake sits at his oak kitchen table and points out an antique wooden clock his grandfather owned; a wooden wheel he found on his lot in 1946, which he wired with five hurricane lights and hung above his living room; and the trunk of a tree that was growing almost exactly where it’s located now – only now it’s one of the main supports of his house. As he talks, a spunky black Labrador named Mattie jumps and runs through the house. Drake adopted Mattie from the animal shelter two weeks ago, and her rambunctious playfulness contrasts with the old furniture and calm, settled feeling of the house.



Though Drake enjoys the solitude of his home, he’s hardly a hermit. He stays active as a charter member of the Timberline Toppers, a square-dancing club he dances with twice a month, and as a greeter at Wal-Mart on Mondays and Tuesdays. He has worked at Wal-Mart for 14 years – since the store was about 6 months old. He also stays active in his church, Abundant Life, and eats lunch with senior citizens on Thursdays.

“I’ve always got something to do,” Drake said. “Some people are lucky, but I’m blessed. I’ve been happy all my life. I don’t have any health problems. I have little bits of aches and pains, but as long as I do my exercise and my square dancing and my work at Wal-Mart pushing carts here and there, it keeps me going. You don’t give up. That’s the main thing.”



One of the main things that keeps Drake going is his faith. He became a born-again Christian in 1978, and every morning he asks God how he can be of use.

“I have a purpose,” he said. “Everybody has a purpose. When you find that purpose, you can be happy because you can see that you’re accomplishing something. My purpose is to stay here, greeting people and speaking to people about God and give them ideas and insights. The more you know the Lord, the happier you are because you see evidence of what he does in your life.”

Drake’s great-grandfather moved to Idaho Springs with his wife after being a captain of a ship on the Great Lakes. His grandfather owned a furniture store and a haberdashery, or a men’s clothing store.

Drake was an only child – and he’s lucky he and his mother survived his birth, because doctors questioned whether her body could give birth after she suffered a ruptured kidney from a buggy crash when she was 16. Not only did his mother survive a buggy crash and childbirth, she also lived to the ripe age of 93.

Longevity runs in his family. He has three cousins on his father’s side who are 98, 94 and 89, a cousin on his mother’s side who is 94 and three who are 86.

Drake and his wife of 44 years raised their two sons in Edgewater. He and four other friends bought half of a block of land in Edgewater in 1941 and built houses for each other. Everyone shared equally in the labor, but whoever was next in line to own a house also was responsible for supplying tubs full of Pepsis for the crew.

Drake was a council member in Edgewater for 20 years and worked at the utilities company for 35 years until he retired in 1978. He lived in Edgewater until 1983, when his wife died, and he moved to Frisco permanently where he lives with his son.

For Drake, the evidence of his blessings is his longevity, health and the ability to greet all kinds of people.

Kimberly Nicoletti may be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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