In Memoriam - Chuck Drake
The Dartmouth Shotokan website is dedicated to the memory of Chuck Drake; the following is an article, written by Joe Schoenig, published in the Winter 1997 edition of ***.
Chuck drake died in mid-June of last year, caught and swept away by an avalanche while climbing Mt. Hunter in Alaska. With his death, we have lost a truly special person. His fellow Karate-ka, as well as anyone who was fortunate enough to have known him, will attest to his warm-hearted, gentle spirit as well as his insatiable appetite for adventure.
Chuck was introduced to the mountains in terms of rock and ice climbing as an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College at the same time he began his Karate training. These activities, at first glance, may seem quite dissimilar, however they do contain many common threads. Both require a serious commitment, constant repetitive exercises and an intense energy expenditure to reach a high degree of proficiency. The attainment of a high degree of skill, however, is not the end or goal. It is only one of the occurrences along the way as you develop and polish your character.
Upon graduation from Dartmouth in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Science (and staying for an additional 9 months to concentrate on his Karate training), Chuck set off on a series of adventures that found him climbing throughout the U.S. and Canada, training in various dojos in the Caribbean and off to Japan for several years where he was employed as an English language teacher. During his stay there, he planned to try to absorb as much of the Japanese culture and way of life as possible. He had the opportunity to train under a number of excellent JKA instructors both at the Hombu dojo in Honshu as well as other dojos in Hokkaido. Among some of his other experiences and accomplishments during this same time were training and achieving the rank of Shodan in Kyudo, apprenticing under a master jeweler/artisan, and becoming quite fluent (both speaking and writing) in the Japanese language. His Shodo was exquisite. Perhaps what was most gratifying, from my perspective, was not only his continued growth and achievements in his many individual endeavours, but more importantly, how he was able to connect them all together and find a deeper, more meaningful understanding to his life. Interestingly, our relationship which began as he the student/I the teacher, progressed through close friend/family member and was now completing the circle whereby he was becoming the teacher to me.
Upon Chuck's return from Japan, he enrolled and was continuing his formal education at the University of Washington, doing advanced studies in fine arts. He also continued his climbing activities throughout the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Canada putting up many difficult routes and first ascents. He was also very enthusiastic in his training under Sensei Cathy Cline in Seattle.
Although his life was incredibly full, Chuck always made a point to return to Dartmouth Shotokan Karate Club each year to train and stayed close with his letters the rest of the time. Over the years, I have saved all of Chuck's letters both because of the beautiful quality of his penmanship as well as the insightful tales of where his life was taking him. They now have become most precious to me. In his last letter, as he was preparing to leave for Alaska, he continued to express his enthusiasm for life in terms of his Karate and mountaineering experiences.
Although our loss of Chuck cannot be mitigated, perhaps it may at least be tempered somewhat by knowing that he has left this life and moved onto his next in a way he would most probably have wanted.
The stone grows old.
Eternity is not for stones.
But i shall go down
from this airy space,
This swift white peace,
This stinging exultation;
And time will close about me,
And my soul stir to the rhythym
of the daily round.
Yet, having known,
life will not press so close,
And always I shall feel time ravel
thin about me.
For once I stood
In the windy white presence
Anata mitaina tomodachi
ga inakute kanashiidesu.