Katherine Wear Draper, former instructor of Speech at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Director of DRAPER DYNAMIC COMMUNICATION joined God in heaven on December 22, 2017.
Kay, as she was fondly known, lived this life with acceptance and a tall story in her heart. She will be remembered by many for her friendly manners and colorful dress that brought smiles to all who knew her.
Born in Yunanfu, China, in 1921 of missionary parents, Alice (Neiderhauser) Wear and Robert B. Wear, she left China at age four. She received her high school education in Aberdeen, South Dakota, before graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin College in 1942. Following her graduate work in drama at the School of Speech at Northwestern University, Kay Wear became a radio “disc jockey” in Kansas City, an announcer in Peoria, and eventually directed her own network radio show out of Cleveland, Ohio, “Party Line for Woman Only.”
During World War II, Kay, at age 23, enlisted in the American Red Cross. She was sent to Europe and was appointed program director in Chester, England, and then club director in Frankfort, Germany. It was here that she met her future husband James B. Draper Jr., a paratrooper sergeant, originally from Canton, Massachusetts. She arranged dances, coffee-and-donut wagons, and general respite entertainment for the troops, including directing plays for the 508th infantry Regiment. She returned state side in April 1946. Katherine Anne Wear and James B. Draper Jr. were married June 8, 1946.
Kay continued with the love of directing, producing and acting in plays, first at the Brattle Street Theater in Cambridge, then Harvard University, and Bowdoin College. She continued her passion for directing plays at the private school campuses where her husband was a teacher, coach and headmaster.
Mrs. Draper was chosen, “Massachusetts Mother of the Year” in 1978 (despite claiming that she did not bake cookies). This honor recognized the many significant community roles she served in Kent, CT, Philadelphia, Chicago, Syracuse, as a member of Planned Parenthood, the Red Cross, the Oberlin Alumni, the YWCA and as a Deaconess in her churches. Her raising six children amidst so many activities strongly supported her unanimous selection.
Before retiring from Worcester Polytechnic in 1985, Kay had published two books: How to Produce Plays Without Crying (“Attic Dramatics”) and Speak Easy. Prior to that she was invited by three universities in China to teach Public Speaking. After retirement, she founded her own company, DYNAMIC COMMUNICATION, and continued to conduct seminars for corporate management both in Boston/ Worcester area and twice at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm,
In 1987, Jim and Kay moved to a farm in Wilmot, New Hampshire. It was here that Kay was ordained Elder in the Kearsarge Community Presbyterian Church. Her twelve years of ministry with the “Pilgrims,” a Christ-centered study group, supported and enhanced her spiritual journey for the rest of her life. Her daily Bible readings and prayers for others nourished her and inspired the way she chose to live. She walked cheerfully, with a grace and humor that touched many lives.
She is survived by her children, son Steve and wife, Sue, daughter Buffy, daughter Laurie and husband Peter, son Jim and wife Judy, and son Dana. In addition, she leaves 10 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. She prayed for these daily.
She was predeceased by her mother and father, brothers Bob and John, as well as her husband of 52 years, Jim and their daughter, Alison.
Memorial gifts in her name can be made to the charity of your choice.
We will have a memorial service for our Mom at half past one o’clock on Saturday, April 28. It will be at Kearsarge Community Presbyterian Church at 82 King Hill Road, New London, NH. A reception will follow the service. Please join us.
We are grateful for all you meant to her and ask that you remember her with a smile,
Steve, Buffy, Laurie, Jim and Dana