William Linn Draper was born 20 Jul 1930 in Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia. At the age of five, Bill’s parents, Harvey and Emma Draper, divorced and he was raised by his mother who worked as a clerk in the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston. Bill saw his father on occassion, but never had much to do with the Draper family.
Emma raised Bill as a child in Nitro, a northern area of Charleston on the Kanahwa River, with his half brother, George Linn. After Emma’s third husband, Mehel “Chief” Bender, died in 1942, Emma moved the family to Charleston, closer to the state capital where she worked.
Always proud of having been a member of the high school baseball team, Bill was graduated from Charleston High School in 1948, and attended Morris-Harvey College in Charleston for one year.
Bill defied his mother when he selected Georgia Institute of Technology as the collage he wished to attend his second year. He left for Atlanta and enrolled at Tech in 1949. Bill met Gwendolyn Ardis Martin in September of 1950 while she was still attending North Fulton High School in Atlanta, and after being pinned for a year and engaged for another year, they married on 5 Sept 1952. Gwen was born in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, on 28 Feb 1933.
Bill was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, and was in the ROTC while at Tech. When he finished his final year, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force on 12 Sep 1953 and left for Korea in the Spring in 1954. Gwen was four months pregnant with their first child when he left.
Bill entered Georgia Tech to study architecture, but the math got to him. He changed his major to Industrial Management. He completed his studies in 1953 and was called to active military duty in the Air Force USAF on 2 Nov 1953. He left for training at the Sampson Air Force Base in New York that year as a Second Lieutenant. After six weeks, he and his wife were stationed for three months in Wyoming where their son was conceived.
After a month at home, Bill was sent to Korea in the Spring on 1954. His son was born five months later, and Gwen named him William Linn, Jr., for fear her husband might not return from war. Bill was assigned duty as a supply officer, and served as a military attaché for the Pentagon. He spent one year in Korea, and “re-upped” for two more years.
After a year overseas year he returned to the states as a First Lieutenant and was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The family lived on the base until 1 Nov 1956 when Bill was released from active duty. After a short stay with Gwen’s parents, Bill landed a good job and purchased the family’s first real home. Bill received his Honorable Discharge on 10 December 1961.
Armco’s subsidiary, Armco Steel Company, was the first and only company Bill worked with during his life. He quickly turned an uneventful desk job into successful control of a sales territory, and embarked on a lifelong career working for Armco.
Once he received his first paycheck, Bill and Gwen purchased their first home at 2730 Belaire Circle in Doraville, DeKalb County, Georgia. It was a brand new, two-bedroom ranch that the couple couldn’t afford. Bill and Gwen had saved $500, but borrowed $1,500 from his mother. Even after moving in, they had nothing to spend fixing it up. Gwen’s father, Kermit Martin, worked as supervisor of Atlantic Steel’s carpentry department and helped as he could.
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