Life Story / Obituary
The Right Reverend Walter Raymond Draeger, Jr., 91, of Traverse City, Michigan, passed away peacefully at home on December 2, 2020, with Sally, his beloved wife of 68 years, by his side. He is survived by his five children: Carey, Bruce (Denise), Sarah Cronkhite (Dean), Ray (Mary Jo), and Frances Gary (Daniel). He was the grandfather of seven grandchildren and great-grandfather to two great-grandchildren. Born on October 19, 1930, Father Draeger was only child of Walter R. Draeger, Sr. and Lu-Lu Draeger. He attended the University of Arizona, and later served in the U.S. Army as a 2nd lieutenant, Armor branch, in California from 1950-1953. After a successful career as an arts supplies manufacturer’s representative, Father Draeger returned to school at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1978.
Following his first assignment as an assistant priest at the Arlington Heights, Illinois, Episcopal church, Father Draeger was called in 1979 to St. David’s Episcopal Church in Lansing, Michigan, where he served as the church’s fourth vicar and first rector. He served at other churches around Michigan, finding his calling as an interim priest. He loved caring for others, providing stability, encouraging healthy growth during a church’s transition, and helping people recognize and accept God within themselves. Father Draeger retired in 2016. He and Sally have lived in Traverse City, most recently at the Commons’ Hawthorne Cottage, for 27 years.
Father Draeger had a wonderful sense of humor and enjoyed the presence of many dear friends in his life. He was a compassionate and caring man: he and Sally volunteered for Red Cross Disaster Relief after Hurricane Katrina and in New York City following the attack on the Twin Towers.
Due to pandemic restrictions, a family-only service will be held to honor Father Draeger’s life on December 6. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Father Draeger’s name be made to Grace Episcopal Church, Traverse City, Michigan.
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