Passing of Robert Thompson Drake


Robert Thompson Drake was born on March 6, 1822. Although he was a junior at the time of the Fraternity’s founding, Brother Drake was brave, faithful, conscientious, and dignified. Though Drake was the most reserved of the founding Phis, Robert bore a natural dignity that did not diminish the warmth of his attachments. From Miami, he went to the Princeton Theological Seminary, became an ordained minister, and served the churches in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Iowa.

“Just east of Dayton, Ohio, and a bit south of Springfield, you’ll find the little village of Yellow Springs. That’s where I was born in the spring of 1822. When I reached the age of twenty-four, I decided it was time to expand my horizons, and I enrolled at Miami University that fall. My friends in the Miami Union Society, and the Fraternity, called me ‘Thompson,’ but I didn’t mind that at all. I had the fortunate opportunity to lead hymns in both the college chapel and the Oxford Presbyterian Church. My faith, you could say, defined my college experience. I even gave my commencement address on The Influence of Christianity on Civilization.”

“Upon leaving my alma mater, I entered work as a minister. I first went to New Albany, Indiana, just across the river from Louisville, but I didn’t stay too long. I migrated back near my fraternal home to Lebanon, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Oxford. I traveled as far west as Des Moines, Iowa, but I generally stayed close to Old Miami.”

Brother Drake married in 1856 and was the father of nine children, only four of whom survived him. Until his death in 1873, he resided in New Castle, Indiana. He died suddenly of an affection of the heart. Drake was buried in Lebanon, Ohio.

In an 1884 issue of The Scroll, from a letter about his fellow Phi Delta Theta Founders, Brother Robert Morrison recounts this story about Drake’s brave service to a young family in need during the cholera outbreak of 1849, while Brother Drake was still in school at Miami.