Robert T. Drew, age 77, transitioned peacefully to his heavenly home on September 21, 2021, at his residence. Born December 11, 1943, in Dublin Georgia, Robert was the son of the late Stephen Earl Drew and Mary Lizzie Swinson. He was also preceded in death by his sister of choice, Betty Ross.
Robert was the true picture of what family is about. His life was devoted to his family, and he will be remembered as a family man. Robert’s happiness was in helping and doing for those that he loved. He is survived by his loving spouse of 56 years, Juanita W. Drew and two other sisters by choice, Lorraine Hill and Elaine Flanders, as well as several nieces, nephews, aunts, cousins and a host of friends. Robert never met a stranger and would always make sure that he let you know that he loved you.
A 1961 graduate of Dublin High School, Robert got his first exposure to “Board Meetings” with principal Mr. Tom Stewart. It shaped his future for a Life of Service. It began in the early 60’s when he served with Ms. Eloise Hooks at what was then known as the “School of Hope”. This was a daytime program for children providing them a safe place to enjoy activities. This venture would later grow to be “Easter Seals” which remained close to his heart. As his business card states, “A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was or the sort of house I lived in or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be better because I was important in the life of a child.
The list of Service is long: He was active with the Georgia Emergency Management Homeland Security Agency and has continued to serve as a Field Instructor honored as the longest serving field instructor in the state of Georgia. He was a member of the original Board of Directors for Laurens County Rural Fire Department. Robert proudly served as a Mason and a Shriner since the 1970’s. He was a member of the Laurens Lodge #75, Al Sihah Shrine Temple and a Lifetime member of the Wayfarers Shrine Unit of Dublin. He has been a member of the Dublin Civitan Club for 39 years, serving as their 50thPresident and was the recipient of the “Civitan’s honor Key”, the highest honor bestowed to a Civitan at a local level. You could always see him involved in the Civitan Fair, the Civitan St. Patrick’s parade, and the Handicap wheelchair ramp program.
And of course, how could you have a parade in Dublin Georgia without Robert Drew. In 2006 he was honored to receive the “Honorary Leprechaun Award” and in 2017 he was the recipient of the “Amy Cannon spirit of the Festival Award”. His work never ended as he served with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, WINGS, Communities in Schools, and AFAC Lighthouse, to name a few.
In 1976, he started his career with the Dublin Fire Department where he served for 53 years both as a volunteer and a paid Fireman. The last 36 years of his career, he served as the Chief, retiring in 2012. This was a service that he truly loved and that would shape his life forever.
A former president, when speaking with firefighters, would often quote a passage from the Book of Isaiah. In this passage, God asks: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? And Isaiah replies: “Here am I. Send me.”
When there was a fire anywhere in Dublin or the surrounding area, Robert replied, “Send me.” That was his life and his passion and his heart. He never wavered.
Theodore Roosevelt said it best: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly,” the man “Who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause.”
That was Robert T. Drew. When the call was sounded, Robert answered. It didn’t matter how terrifying the situation was. It didn’t matter how intense the heat, how complex or dangerous the structure, or how bruised or fatigued he might have been at the time. It didn’t’ matter how closely death knocked. Robert answered: “Send me.”
In moments of danger, he acted with courage and bravery, and he was a natural leader--- yet he was also willing to play the part of the essential follower to make the team whole. And, when moments of danger passed, he embraced his role as a mentor to his younger colleagues. How can you even begin to measure the legacy of a man who not only acted with courage and bravery, but taught and mentored hundreds more? Yet, not only did Robert’s career represent the highest calling of public service—he lived these values in every aspect of his daily life. So many have been touched by him and he loved his community—whether it was by doing charity work or to raise money for those in need or by embracing his position as a role model to all who knew him. And he was loved in return---by his comrades, by his neighbors, and by the people of this town that he loved so much.
When Robert spoke, people listened. Yet he was not a man of words alone. Robert was the kind of man Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote: “Action is eloquence.”
Today we remember Robert with our words. But tomorrow, let us uphold his memory through our actions.
And finally, let us endeavor to live our lives the way Robert lived his, in the spirit of the Prayer of St. Francis:
“Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console:
To be understood as to understand:
To be loved, as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Please join us in celebrating his life Friday, September 25, 2021, at 2:00 pm, at Jefferson Street Baptist Church in Dublin, Georgia. Interment will follow the services on Friday at Dublin Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be Thursday evening, September 24th at the Townsend Brothers Funeral Home between the hours of 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm.
Honored to serve as pallbearers are Fred Jenkins, Don Jenkins, David Knowles, Donny Murry, Tom Evans, Drew Brack, and Duke Brack. Honorary pallbearers will be current and former members of the Dublin Fire Department and local Law Enforcement.
Robert, may you rest in peace. Your work on earth is done and you have earned your place in God’s Heaven.
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