George and Sue in the backseat of a car after their wedding

How the Drakes Met

Hint, Not as You Might Expect
Michele Regenold ’89

Sue Ratcliff Drake ’58, a native Minnesotan, graduated from a high school class of nearly 450 students. She didn’t know half her classmates, so she wanted something smaller. She applied to Grinnell because it was more intimate than the University of Minnesota. 

“I didn't visit ahead,” she says, “I just applied, and in those days they took anybody, because I have to admit, I'm not the greatest student. I have fun. I had to work hard for my grades but enjoyed knowing everyone and participating in the special activities. 

 “I knew of George Drake because he was a big deal on campus,” she says. He was a runner and made a bid for Student Council president.

“In those days,” Sue says, “you dated a lot of different people. I dated his roommates.”

But she never even said hello to George.

In the fall of 1959, Sue was teaching second grade in Hinsdale, Ill., a western suburb of Chicago. She persuaded her roommate, Nancy, to drive to Grinnell with her to go to homecoming. They met one of George’s college roommates on campus, and he invited Sue to the homecoming dance.

“I said, ‘Sure, but I've got my friend here.’ And he said, ‘Well, George Drake is here. We'll just double.”

During the dance, George learned that Sue had driven from Chicago in her ’51 Plymouth. He had taken the train, so he asked if he could get a ride back with them.

“About two weeks later,” Sue says, “he called me up and asked me out. So, that's how I met George. That was in October. By February we were engaged, and in June we were married.”

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