On 14 Feb 1961 the first daughter of Bill and Gwen Draper, Martha Ann, was born. As the family grew, a larger home was needed and the perfect solution presented itself in 1963. Up the same street, at 2705, a three-bedroom house with a full basement was about to become vacant, and the Drapers moved into what was known as the Shockley House.
The last of the Draper children, Sarah Lynn, was born on 7 April 1965. Bill put his college training in architecture to work and designed the home he and Gwen always wanted. They searched for property and found a site in the newly developing suburbs of Dunwoody, north of Doraville, and the dream became reality.
In 1972, while Bill Jr. was away at college, the rest of the family moved from Doraville and took up residence in Dunwoody. The two girls grew up and went to school here, and Bill Jr. spent time here during and after college.
Bill’s hobbies turned to hunting early in his life, and his talent for rebuilding unwieldy military weapons into cherished hunting rifles became the art he was best known for throughout his life. His love of the outdoors took him searching for investment property in the wilds of Georgia. He focused on Lumpkin County in the North Georgia mountains.
Once again Bill began to design the house they really wanted for their retirement after buying the perfect piece of property. By 1984 Bill, Gwen and the girls lived in a beautiful, rustic home in Lumpkin County. on the side of a mountain overlooking a large creek. But Bill wasn’t satisfied; the neighborhood never grew as fast as he thought it would. Eleven years on the lonely mountain was enough for both Bill and Gwen.
He realized people who retire are older, and older people need special features. Bill began sketching a new, final home, correcting all the mistakes he had made or overlooked. And in 1995 after all three children were gone, Bill and Gwen settled down in the last house they would ever share - on a mountain top in a close suburb of Dahlonega, the site of Georgia’s first gold rush.
Bill spent his life believing strongly in the security of the Corporate Man, but things changed. Armco sold his subsidiary to Contech Construction Products, and the new company cut his retirement in half for a small upfront fee, putting Bill and Gwen in jeopardy. When he finally decided to retire, Contech did not want to lose his expertise and promised to keep him on - for a much smaller salary. With reduced retirement, Bill had no choice but to take the offer. He retired from Contech as a senior sales engineer after 37 years, but continued to work for the company from home.
Making his new community better became a priority for Bill, and he was appointed to the city’s council and zoning commission. His daughter, Martha, married and moved to Dahlonega as well, while his other children, Bill Jr. and Sarah, remained in Atlanta. Martha presented Bill and Gwen with their only grandchildren, so three generations of Drapers lived in Dahlonega.
Everything was prepared for a comfortable retirement in the mountains of North Georgia. He had his guns, civic responsibilities, grandchildren, and most importantly, he had Gwen. Then he began to lose feeling in his arm. Doctors found a tumor in his spine called Ependamoma that was more aggressive than they expected. They could not operate fast enough to stop it from spreading.
Bill spent his last few months with his family at the last home he designed and built. He had enough time to be sure Gwen was taken care of before his body was completely paralyzed and he fell into a coma. On 8 February 2000, Bill died at the age of 69, and was buried in Sandy Springs at Arlington Cemetery where Gwen’s parents have a family plot.
William Linn Draper, Sr., and Gwendolyn Ardis Martin
1. William Linn Jr. (b. 25 September 1954, Fulton County, Georgia)
Married Barbara Ann Wilmore (b. 6 March 1952, Lexington, Kentucky) – No Children
2. Martha Ann (b. 14 February 1961, DeKalb County, Georgia)
Married Paul Passman (b. 23 August 1962)
3. Sarah Linn (b. 7 April 1965, DeKalb County, Georgia)
- Not Married
Martha Ann Draper and Paul Passman
1. William Charles Passman (b. 17 August 1991, Fulton County, Georgia)
2. John Draper Passman (b.30 October 1995, Fulton County, Georgia)
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