Ronald William Drathman, a long-time Homer resident, died Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 of natural causes at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer. Ron was born in Cleveland, Ohio on Aug. 13, 1942 to Raymond and Mary (Mienke) Drathman. At age 13, he moved with his family to Phoenix, Ariz.
Always a bit of a rebel, Ron dropped out of high school at age 17 and joined the Navy. He served aboard the USS Intrepid, where he had many adventures while plying the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. After being honorably discharged, Ron enrolled at Arizona State University and spent the next six years alternately taking classes and working in Alaska, which had captured his imagination. Among various jobs, he flew for Merrill Flight Service in Anchorage and worked on the Alaska Railroad. Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, Ron attended Stetson University College of Law, obtaining his Jurist Doctorate in 1973.
In 1966, Ron married Leslie Coppins and in 1971 their dear son, Zachary, was born. In 1973, Ron returned to the Last Frontier and began working as an Alaska State Public Defender in Anchorage. He would go on to establish a thriving practice in partnership with Phillip Weidner and other notable attorneys, with several offices in Southcentral Alaska.
In 1982, Ron married Susan Bashaw, and in 1984, he moved his family, which now included his beautiful daughter Alexandra, to the small town of Homer, which would forever hold a special place in Ron’s heart. Two-and-a-half years later, they celebrated the arrival of their darling boy, Max, making their family complete.
Ron was an ardent fan of his children’s sporting endeavors, including football, volleyball, hockey, soccer and Little League. Attending nearly every game, he also coached and managed Alex’s Little League team from 1990 to 1999. He was also a four-term president of Little League during those years, and organized many events.
In addition to practicing law, Ron served in local government and sat on a number of boards and commissions throughout his years in Homer. He served consecutive, three-year terms on the Borough Assembly from 1993 until 1999, with two years as Board President. He was an active member of the Alaska Municipal League from 1993 until 2002, serving on and chairing many committees.
In recognition for his service, Ron was awarded a lifetime membership in the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Kenai Aerie 3525. In 1999, he became the City Manager of Homer, a job he found both challenging and rewarding. Two of his major accomplishments included locating substantial funding for upgrading the port and harbor, seeing those projects to completion and drafting and spearheading the city’s popular annexation project.
Service was of utmost importance to Ron. From his time in the Navy to his tenure as Homer City Manager, Ron endeavored to be a positive influence in the community in which he lived. He successfully imparted those values to his children, who are each employed in public service to their communities.
Ron is survived by Susan Drathman; his son and daughter-in-law, Zachary and Kelly Drathman; his son, Max Drathman; his daughter and son-in-law, Alex and George McGuan; grandsons Leif, Parker and Quinn Drathman; brother and sister-in-law, David and Beth Drathman; sister and brother-in-law, Kathy and Chris Knoth; many nieces, great nieces and nephews, and our dear friend, Tim Navarre, who has been a steadfast and tremendous support to us all during Ron’s lengthy illness. We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to Sandra Wallace and Michelle Arno, who provided Ron with dedicated and loving care.
There will be a memorial service on Wednesday, March 5 at 4 p.m. at the Homer Elks Lodge. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, you make a charitable donation to Little League of Homer or another project close to your heart.
John Lee Luzadder was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, to Mary Martha Luzadder and Raymond Leo Luzadder on Aug. 14, 1950.
The family moved to Southern California where he graduated from Westminster High School in 1968 before attending Orange Coast College, in Costa Mesa, and Golden West College, in Huntington Beach, majoring in music and playing in the marching bands.
Music was in his veins. John purchased his first guitar with money earned distributing newspapers on the streets of Huntington Beach, Calif. He wanted to be a rock ’n’ roll star and started playing in clubs when he was 16.
In the 1970s, he performed with The Clique, The Raque, Rainbow, Homegrown and Fifty Fingers. John’s best friend growing up in Southern California was Larry Hanson, later lead guitarist for Alabama. Larry is currently playing with Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers. “We learned to play guitar together,” John said. In 1970, they recorded the album “The Human Zoo,” which now is considered a collector’s item and unopened copies sell for as much as $1,000 each in Europe. John, Larry and other band members Roy Young and Kimm Vydareny have kept in contact.
John also had the honor of playing and recording with Don Ellis in the early 1970s and performing at the Greek Theatre in Hollywood. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, he played guitar with ‘50s artists like Chubby Checker, The Coasters, The Drifters, Jesse “Oo Poo Pa Do” Hill and many others.
In 1976, John was enticed to Cordova, to play music for two weeks and never left. Here in Alaska, he performed with Arcane, Aftershock,
Kachemak All Stars, Looney Tunes, Just Friends, Rockweiler, Monk’s Hood, The Rock Doctors, Igloo Brothers and, most recently, with Elders on Fire.
In 1982 he met his wife, lifelong Homer resident, Suzi Nielsen, daughter of Karl and Mabel Nielsen. Always willing to tempt fate, they married in May on Friday the 13th, 1983.
John wrote ad jingles for a living to stay in Homer close to Suzi’s widowed mother. One ad for a chain of photo processing labs was the genesis of the idea of owning a photo store himself. John and Suzi opened Eagle Eye One Hour Photo in 1984. The business expanded to include a digital portrait studio, color and black and white photocopying, a large inventory of frames and merchandise, and graphic design by John.
Any endeavor he pursued, he did with a fervor and perseverance that led to success. With all the different machines Eagle Eye owned, John had to be his own self-taught technician, because, more often than not, technical assistance was many miles and many days away in the Lower 48. He would just dig in and learn the machine or system. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he made Eagle Eye work for 28 years.
John’s latest graphic works included menus, flyers and website designs for various local restaurants. He was most proud of Wasabi’s web site. Check it out.
His latest musical enjoyment was recording in his home studio and playing with the dance band Elders on Fire. He played bass, stand up bass and sang, especially enjoying the camaraderie and enthusiastic dance fans. As one person said, “John always looked out into the audience to see that they were having a good time, also.”
He loved his pets, Cassie, Corky, Tyler, Cupcake, Guinness and especially his dog Dusty. He knew that animals could not speak for themselves, so he chose to show his appreciation of their love by using his graphic design ability to make posters for an online group, Animal Parents Against Pet Treats and Food Made in China. He joined their efforts after he lost his own dog, Dusty, to tainted Chicken Jerky Treats made in China by American Companies such as Nestle Purina and Del Monte Corp.
Some of his favorite things: watching Star Trek, baby elephants frolic, birds feeding on sunflower seeds, and driving around Alaska in his motorhome. The serene beauty at a pinnacle on the Old Denali Highway soothed him. He called it the “top of the world” and would stay there for days just soaking it in. He appreciated the harmonies of The Beach Boys and the music of Dan Fogelberg. Often asked for technical help because of his computer expertise, he enjoyed the challenges.
John and Suzi enjoyed 31 years of unparalleled love, devotion and commitment. John was especially known for his quirky sense of humor, kindness, punctuality, carrying out a commitment, generous spirit and easy-going manner. He is best defined by his love for Suzi and his passion for playing music, and his infectious smile.
With Suzi at his side at their home in Homer, Alaska, John L. Luzadder left this earth on Feb. 9, 2014, for more far reaching endeavors, and new stages, new gigs.
John is survived by Suzi, his wife of 31 years, his brother Bill Luzadder, sister Mary Moore, nieces Jill Thigpen and Laura McCamy, nephews Mike Luzadder and Nathan Kaylor and their family members. Most of them reside in North Carolina. He we preceded in death by both his parents. In honor of John, consider donations to Homer Animal Friends.
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