Earl Alvin Draeger age 75, a long-time resident of Phoenix, Arizona, passed away peacefully at his home on April 25th, 2019.
Born on December 22nd, 1943 in Wyandotte, Michigan, to Margorie and Wilfred Draeger, Earl graduated from Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte in 1962. Earl then served in the US Army until he was honorably discharged in 1967, having attained the rank of Sergeant. Earl selflessly volunteered to serve our nation in time of need and earned a Combat Action Ribbon for his duty in the Republic of Vietnam. He was also awarded with the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Vietnam Campaign Medal among other notable commendations. Earl proudly served our nation and never wavered from this calling.
Following his military service, Earl relocated to Arizona where he worked with the Motorola Corporation. Subsequently, he embarked on a lifetime career in the restaurant and hospitality industry. In this capacity, Earl was able to touch thousands of people through his kindness, his giving heart and his genuine caring for others. One of his greatest joys was seeing the happiness he was able to provide his customers. Earl was beloved by his staff and nurtured them throughout his career as well as after his time in the industry. People often sought Earl out to receive his guidance and direction. He was loved and respected by all who knew him.
His years of service to his customers and guests led to his retirement from the restaurant business and to overseeing the operation of a large ranch in Carefree, Arizona with his brother Ken. He enjoyed the hands-on aspect of ranch life, the hard work and driving the Gator around with the grandkids and his side-kick Rocky. Most of all he enjoyed the time spent with his brother Ken who he loved dearly. Ranch life befitted his lifetime love of animals and watching Earl interact with all of God’s creatures was a view into his gentle, kind soul.
Earl’s later years were a daily dose of unconditional love provided by his beloved three Yorkie Terriers, Peanut, Rocky and Cocoa. He is survived by daughters Colleen Esslinger (Craig Esslinger) and Laura Draeger Ingram; brother Ken Draeger (Liz Draeger); sister-in-law Carol Henderson; sister Cindy Quick (Gary Quick), and grandchildren Mark Esslinger, Trey Ingram, John Esslinger, Kendra Ingram, and Damon Ingram, Earl was preceded in death by both of his parents.
A funeral service will be held Thursday, May 2 at 11:00 am at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona at 23029 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, AZ 85024. A reception will immediately follow services at Windgate Ranch, 10095 E. Windgate Ranch Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85255.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Arizona Humane Society at www.azhumane.org.
What a beautiful legacy he left Colleen and Laura. May God keep you both and your families wrapped tightly in His warm and loving embrace. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.
Andrea and Gary Smith and family
Anthony (Tony) Lix
Sorry for your loss , I’ve known Earl since working at Scottsdale Reuben’s when he stole me from the Plank House on Southern in Mesa.
He will be missed,,,,
I always got a good vibe from Earl and it was certainly apparent he loved his entire family. May He Rest In Peace….
My heartfelt sympathy to all of Earl’s family and dear friends. I worked with him at the Mesa BA and at Superstition Springs BA . He was the best boss and a good friend. Rest in peace, Earl. Fly high with the angels!❤
Earl shaped me at a time that I resisted leadership, but obviously still so desperately needed it. I am sure it is the same for many of my cadre. We were all young whipper snappers working at Black Angus in the early 1990s. He whipped us into shape. I still cannot walk past litter on the ground (even if it is the size of a penny) without hearing Earl intone, “If you see it, pick it up.” The man knew how to impose discipline with a dip of his chin and a steady gaze over his glasses. Silence can be a riveting call to action.
I started working at Black Angus when I was 17. My dad was 3 thousand miles away. Reading the obituary, Earl is of the same age as my dad. At the time I started working there, I saw no need for parents. When I moved out at 18, it was the job that ensured I had at least one square meal a shift. When I turned 18 and filled out the meal card at the end of the day’s shift and, as I put in the date realized it was my birthday, it was the work place that gathered around me not long prior to my birthday’s end and sang me happy birthday with a slice of Black Angus chocolate cake. My mom moved to Miami not long after I graduated high school. My parental ties were cut. I bounced around from place to place, reliant on friends at Black Angus to help me keep my feet under me.
In that year, I was one of Earl’s students. Working a day shift, I learned the quiet appreciation of golf, which he kept on the TVs in the bar. Working cover charge on a Country Western Night, I learned to trust in others to watch my back when I only knew I looked good in a short skirt with long boots.
Work ethics were drilled into me. I learned the thrill of a double shift on a Mother’s Day when everything is clicking and the team, led by Earl, swiftly quells any error in planning. Grit is a trendy word in 2019, but grit was Earl from day one. We persisted because he persisted. Sure, we did sneaky things (J-Pad residents regularly stole toilet paper and cheese cake), but we also fell in line and took care of each other.
Away from work the hostesses, bussers and young servers went sky diving, watched each others basketball games, housed each other, found each other old futons to sleep on and we even got Joe to bungee jump. Oh, and Joe Weech. Well he and I met there. I was a 19 year old hostess. He was a 22 year old bar back/busser/bartender/accountant. He hustled. I hustled. I was bright and radiant – out on my own – naive and smiling at everyone. Joe was the world wise “father-figure” among the bussers. Joe learned I didn’t date at work and he waited until I gave my notice. 23 married years later, 27 years after I gave my notice at Black Angus, Joe and I still credit Earl with creating the environment that created us. For that and so much more, we send you love into your ever after.
Thank you for your love, your sense of humor, and your no-nonsense wisdom. I’m so grateful for the talks and laughter we shared. I will always remember you with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Love you always.
My Uncle Earl will be dearly missed and fondly remembered. He always reached out to show kindness to me beginning with my early memories of him.
When I hear people talk about the profound value of being kind and generous without an any expectation of return, I always think of Uncle Earl. He was that and so much more to me. My deepest condolences to all others who feel the sadness and loss of his passing. May he rest in peace.
It seems like yesterday I last saw you..and now you’re gone. Time really does go by so fast . I worked with Earl since he started at Black Angus, I remember training him at night as a food-server ( thinking
to myself, and to him.. “thank goodness you’re going to be a manager.. cause you’re not a very good food server!! Little did I know.. he was training me , in how to be confident in myself and do things I never thought I could! We worked together in good times and in bad , and still remained great friends! I’m really going to miss you .. thanks for everything, Bobbie Huffman ♥️
Claude and Sandy Collins
Our sympathy goes out to Laura , Colleen and all the family for the loss of a loving parent.
Knowing Earl and his young family since the mid 60’s it’s obvious he touched the lives of so many others during his career and family development. I first Earl while we were both in the US Army. I remember him as a true Patriot,a sincere friend,a very dedicated worker,and a true compassionate individual that was such a pleasure to call a friend.
It will be hard missing his laughing conversation and cheerful voice. May God help all of you to manage the coming days.
Earl will be missed by us all.
Colleen and Laura you have my sincere condolences on the passing of your father and my good friend . You probably don’t remember me but I worked with your dad when we were both climbing the mountain on McDowell and firing the rockets down the line to the ground. I would occasionally come to your house at noon for lunch. We talked on Facebook all the time and believe it or not I was going to call him today .
He was a good friend and I know he will be missed by a lot of people. I know you two will find the strength in this time of need. Lean on each other and I know you will both be fine.
Heartfelt condolences and prayers for all his family and friends. May you be comforted by your memories and each other.
Marc and Yvonne Lucero
Earl has had a profound impact on my life and my wife’s. He has mentored generations of hospitality managers, staff and people from all walks of life. We have been blessed by his humor, work ethic, compassion and living in the moment. Bless his family all who will miss him. May he continue to touch us all.
I think you passed away too young Earl. So many memories and I’m glad that you found me in Florida. May you rest in peace.
Jackie Hunt and Carol Able
Colleen and Laura, my name is Jackie Hunt (last name was Campbell when you kids were young. Also Carol Dible ( now Able) used to be good friends with your mom and dad. We had so many good times hanging out. We were all new to Arizona then. Had the best parties. I have kept in touch with your dad all these years and am so sorry to hear of his passing. He was so proud of you girls. He will be so missed. Wish I could have been at his funeral but was out of town and just saw it on Facebook today.
Colleen, Laura and families. Sooo So sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing yesterday from a friend. Would have come to his service but I am at my home in Bolingbrook IL near my daughter and grand children.
Sending you all Hugs, much Love, and Blessings
Loved your father dearly. Wonderful memories. He was kind and caring man. Loved his family with all his heart. Hoping for peace in the days and weeks to come. Love Sally