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Nisswa: Fellow Legionnaires remember Dell Draves

Dell Draves, a well-known member of the Nisswa American Legion, Nisswa Lions Club and the Nisswa community, is being remembered by his fellow Legionnaires after he died Friday, Sept. 15, at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. He was 75.

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Dell Draves, a well-known member of the Nisswa American Legion, Nisswa Lions Club and the Nisswa community, is being remembered by his fellow Legionnaires after he died Friday, Sept. 15, at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. He was 75. Echo-Journal file photo

Dell Draves, a well-known member of the Nisswa American Legion, Nisswa Lions Club and the Nisswa community, is being remembered by his fellow Legionnaires after he died Friday, Sept. 15, at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. He was 75.

"I would personally say how much he will be missed," Gina Taylor, Legion commander, said in an email. "He was the gambling manager for several years and wore many hats. As the gambling manager he staffed the Legion's pull-tab booth, bingo sessions, and brought in the e-gaming machines. He voluntarily took on many additional tasks to ensure that the Legion was successful."

Taylor said Draves was a liaison between the Legion and the Nisswa Chamber, Nisswa Elementary School and the media for events. He was instrumental in the planning and organizing the Legion's Memorial Day programs and membership dinners. He was the Legion's advocate for its sponsorship of Legion baseball teams.

Randy Perkins served on the Nisswa Legion executive board for over 15 years with Draves, and they worked on many projects together. Perkins said Draves also helped host the Sixth District Convention, started the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon project in Nisswa and helped veterans in the area.

"Dell gave unselfishly to the Legion, veterans and community. He was my friend, a comrade and a friend to those in need. He will be missed," Perkins wrote in an email.

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Draves took over as gambling manager at the Legion about four years ago, succeeding Bill Marshall.

"Gambling at the Nisswa Legion has never been better since I left, or more profitable," Marshall said. "He did an absolutely marvelous job."

Ray DeZurik, another Legionnaire, said the Legion lost a 27-year member of the Billie Brown American Legion Post 627.

"But most importantly, we lost a dear, loyal friend. Dell was a Vietnam Army veteran who always remembered and was proud of his service to his country," DeZurik wrote in an email. "Dell was a man who accepted all challenges whether big or small, easy or hard. He was a meticulous and thorough planner who wanted to insure everything was accounted for. Dell insured that once his plan was executed, it was successful."

DeZurik said Dell was a caring man.

"Education of our young people was his highest priority whether it was for purchasing equipment for the elementary school or organizing the new junior American Legion baseball team," he wrote.

"Dell was a man who loved his immediate family and talked about them. Dell loved the American Legion and Lion families. Dell loved the community of Nisswa. Dell was pride. Dell was that wry smile. Dell was that close friend. Dell was that dedicated Legionnaire who will be dearly missed not only by his post but also by his family, friends and community," DeZurik wrote.

Legionnaire Dave Faust served on the Legion executive board with Dell since 2004.

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"I was always impressed with his devotion to the Nisswa School. Every time they called, Dell responded with a Legion donation. I often thought they should name the school after him," Faust wrote in an email.

Dell was Nisswa Citizen of the Year in 2004.

Shawn Hansen, Nisswa Chamber president/CEO, said: "I have always admired his commitments to this community, whether it was through Nisswa Lions Club or the Nisswa American Legion. Dell was instrumental in getting the Yellow Ribbon designation for our community."

"He was a loyal and faithful Legionnaire and always stepped forward to help out when something needed to be done," Taylor wrote.

Visitation will be from 9-10 a.m., followed by the memorial service at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 14, at Grace United Methodist Church in Pequot Lakes.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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