Ralph W. Drake was born in Donalds, South Carolina on August 7, 1911 to James Will Drake and Ida McClain Drake Murff. He was the oldest of four children. Ralph’s father died when he was seven years old, and his mother was known to say that she depended on Ralph more than normal for a child that age. He graduated from high school, earned a B.A. degree from Erskine College and a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. Before serving in World War II and before law school, he taught school and coached girls softball in Lydia.
After practicing law for a few years, Ralph was appointed Probate Judge for Greenville County to fill Judge Gullick’s unexpired term. At the end of this term he was elected to eight consecutive four year terms with opposition only in the first election. He served as President of the South Carolina Probate Judges, and retired in 1990 as judge.
Judge Drake was a member of Augusta Road Baptist Church where he taught Sunday School for 50 years, served as deacon, and became Deacon Emeritus. Several of the boards he served on were Erskine College, Greenville County Mental Health, Greenville Technical College, March of Dimes and Salvation Army. He was also a member of the Greenville Civitan Club, in which he served as President of the Greenville Club and Governor for the South Carolina District.
Surviving are his wife Rachel Calvert Drake, and three daughters: Margaret M. Drake, Paula D. Mullenax, and Michele Drake–Ishak.