The Tribune

Michael James Draper


      Michael James Draper, aged 76, of Littlefield, passed away on Jan. 19, 2024. Born in Globe, to parents Nelson and Jean Draper. Known affectionately by many names, including Chief, Draper, Mikey, Pepsi Mike, and Santa, he was a man who even after retirement woke up with the sun to have coffee with close friends Hal and Nola. 

      A graduate of Miami Ariz., high school, Mike’s life was characterized by his early independence at just age 13 and unwavering commitment to his community. 

      He married Susan in 1968 in Holbrook, and they were blessed with three children: Crystal Sue, Christopher Michael and Jeffery Dale. The untimely loss of their children in 1972 due to a house fire was a profound tragedy that led to their eventual separation. 

      Mike’s second chapter of life began with his move to Beaver Dam, where he married Rhonda, and together they had a son, Justin Michael Draper.

      His passion for service was ignited by the first responders who worked so tirelessly to try and save the lives of his children. It was evident through his founding of the first volunteer firefighter and first responder team in Beaver Dam. His efforts were instrumental in establishing the fire station and emergency services that serves the community to this day. 

      For 30 years, Mike dedicated his career to the Arizona State Highway Division before retiring and continuing to work in heavy machinery operations. His post-retirement years were filled with active community

involvement, from chili cook-offs to the Beaver Dam Jam, and from the Christmas parades to the lawn mower races. 

      Mike’s love for the outdoors was matched only by his commitment to the community. In his youth Mike was an avid hunter, fisherman and adventurer, leaving behind a legacy of enthusiasm and support for all things Beaver Dam. 

      He is survived by his son, Justin Michael Draper and daughter, Shelby Diana Draper, and is preceded in death by his parents; sister, Patricia Draper; and his three children. 

      In recognition of Mike’s contributions, a Celebration of Life will be held at the Beaver Dam Bar on Old Highway 91. Services will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27. Attendees are encouraged to bring memories and photographs to share in commemorating Mike’s remarkable life. 

      In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Beaver Dam Unified Schools, Desert Rose Charities, or We Care for Animals of Mesquite/Arizona in Michael’s name. Final arrangements made through Star Mortuary of Mesquite, Nev. Family and friends are invited to sign an online memorial guest book at www.starmortuary.com

      The community mourns the loss of a man who was a pillar of strength, and a beacon of community spirit. His memory will forever be cherished by those who knew him.

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