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Jerry Drake, musician and mentor, passes away at 82

Jerome “Jerry” Drake  passed away on Thursday, June 24th from cancer at the age of 82. He was loved by his community and by the many music students he taught over the years. 

Drake shared a son, Mark with his first wife who passed away from leukemia and a daughter, Dara, with his wife of 40 years, Debbie. 

“He loved his family, his community, and his country,” Debbie told the paper. 

Drake was a United States Army Veteran and retired NYC Department of Education Music Teacher. Drake served for two years playing tuba and trumpet in the Army band where he performed for troops throughout the United States. 

Following discharge, Jerry spent five years as a music student in Chicago, graduating in 1970 with a Master’s in Music Education from DePaul University. After graduation, he embarked on a long and successful career in the music industry, working primarily in Queens. 

Drake played somewhere between 150 and 200 gigs annually for over twenty years while teaching full-time at New York City public schools. In 1998, Drake started his own group,  “The Front Page Big Band”, which played throughout New York City and recorded multiple albums.

 “Jerry had that special talent as a musician, combined with a passion to teach children the wonders of working together to produce band music,” said Walter Sanchez, Editor of the Queens Ledger. “His love for music touched so many of his students throughout the school district. He was a true teacher.”

Drake was not only known for his love of music but also for his dedication to the people of Queens. 

He served on Community Board 5 for fourteen years, and worked closely with the local police precinct and other groups to help ensure the safety of the community

“We appreciate his dedication to Maspeth and neighboring communities, and his love in spreading the joy of music,” said Gary Giordano, District Manager of Community Board 5. “He touched people in a very special way. May he never be forgotten.”

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