It was standing room only at the funeral home chapel for Freddie Drake, a.k.a. Junior, a.k.a. “Freddie the Hangaround” as it said on one of the memorial programs. Freddie was killed in a motorcycle accident on August 25th at the age of 52. The parking lot was full of Harley-Davidson motorcycles as his family and friends came out in force to remember him and send him off with honors.
A color photocopied sheet of paper showed a sunset as seen through the handlebars of a bike and other images of Freddie. An image of a motorcyclist heading down the road graced the cover of the other memorial program. At the front of the room, his flag-draped casket was decorated with a dozen or so stickers for the Bandidos Motorcycle Club. Photos of Freddie throughout his life cycled by on the screen, ending with “Dad, Brother, Grandpa, Uncle, Friend – We Love You.”
Several family members wore memorial T-shirts in his honor. Men and women wearing Bandido colors filled the pews and stood in the side aisles. All were somber and some were crying as we waited for the service to begin. People walked up to the casket and put stickers on the side. They said “Support Your Local Bandidos” and represented chapters from New Mexico and Texas.
Terrance Brook opened the service with Scripture and a prayer. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
In the prayer, he said, “We have saddened hearts today… Lord, give us strength, comfort, understanding… Give us the peace that passes our understanding… Thank you for Junior, for family and friends, and for your love.” Then he read the obituary from the newspaper:
DRAKE — FREDDIE ALLEN JR. Age 52, a resident of Albuquerque, passed away on Saturday, August 25, 2012 from a motorcycle accident. He was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 7, 1959 to Fred A. Drake, Sr. and Charlene Medley Drake. Freddie was a proud Navy veteran and enjoyed riding his motorcycle and fishing. He was preceded in death by his older brother Charles Alton Drake.
Fred is survived by his six children, Charlene Marie Drake, Arlene Nicole Drake, Jason Allen Drake, Jada Robbyn Drake, Janice Darlene Loretta Drake and Jessie James Drake; his father and mother Fred Drake and Charlene Bryant; sister Cathy Cox and husband Jimmey; grandchildren Kylene Marie Drake, Derrik Alden Drake, Erik O’Connor Drake, Destiny Laura Drake, Athena Charlene Drake and Nevaeh Nichole Drake; as well as many extended family members and friends.
A service will be held in the Strong-Thorne Chapel of Daniels Family Funeral Services- Coal location, on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 11:00am. Following the service will be a bike run procession to Santa Fe National Cemetery for interment at 3:00pm. A gathering will be held at the home of Cathy Cox following interment. Food and beverages will be served. The Drake family would like to extend a special thanks to the Bandidos MC and friends who have supported the family in their time of need.
A woman named Wendy got up and sang a stunning rendition of “Amazing Grace” set to the music for the song “House of the Rising Sun.” After a round of applause, three young women from the family got up to share stories from the family that had been written in advance. All three wore sparkly red bandana headbands.
Snapshots of Freddie began to paint a portrait. He was an honorable man who kept his word. He was a good friend who would give you the shirt off his back and would take homeless people into his home. He cared deeply about his family and friends.
He was a hard worker, a man of many talents. He had street smarts and a strong work ethic. A warm and loving soul with a goofy smile, he was also a big teaser. He grew an amazing garden and he made great barbeque. He sang and played the harmonica. He could fix anything. He sacrificed for people he loved. During a lean year, daughter Nikki said he sold a purple pearl Harley so he could afford Christmas toys for all the kids.
And he loved motorcycles and “The Ride.” In wind, rain and night, all across New Mexico, he loved cruising on his Harley. He shared his love of motorcycles with his kids, and more than one tale was told of how he introduced bikes to his children.
He was Protector, Party Bud, Hero, Best Friend. After the comments period, we watched a photo montage video of Freddie set to songs like “Free Bird” and “1,000 Miles from Nowhere.” The images moved through his life chronologically: childhood in New Mexico, his time in the Navy, as a young adult moving into parenthood, and taking road trips, ending with an image of riding off into the sunset. His T-shirt collection was impressive: AC/DC, Jack Daniels, Lynrd Skynrd, Sturgis, Harley, and of course, Bandidos.
After a closing prayer, the funeral director gave directions for the ride to Santa Fe for Freddie’s burial at the national cemetery. At least three dozen bikes lined up behind “Journey’s End,” a three-wheeled motorcycle that towed an old-fashioned looking hearse with glass walls.
The journey would take them east on Route 66, through the Tijeras Canyon to Route 14, the two-lane back road up to Santa Fe. After the burial, everyone would gather for a party at his sister’s house.
If you have stories or memories about Freddie Drake that you’d like to share, please write in the comments box below. May Junior ride with the angels.