Published Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mercer University field house named for Newnan couple

By W. WINSTON SKINNER

winston@newnan.com

A new building at Mercer University in Macon has been named in honor of a Newnan couple.

The Mercer community dedicated the Homer and Ruth Drake Field House on Nov. 9 as part of the Homecoming 2012 festivities. The Drake Field is the cornerstone of the Mercer’s Moye Football and Lacrosse Complex.

The Drake Field House includes football and lacrosse coaches’ offices, team meeting rooms, a student lounge, locker rooms, a weight room and a training room. It also includes a sports medicine clinic that will be operated by the Mercer School of Medicine.

The facility is named for Mercer trustee W. Homer Drake Jr., and his wife, Ruth. Homer Drake is a U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Northern District of Georgia and is a double graduate of Mercer, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1954 and law degree in 1956.

The Drakes and their family traveled to Macon for the dedication program.

Bill Underwood, Mercer’s president, said spoke of the Drakes contributions to Mercer and said it is important “to permanently incscribe their names” on the campus. The field house will be “a reminder for future generations” of the Drakes’ commitment to Mercer.

When Underwood referred to Homer Drake as “the man who restored college football” to Mercer, the room erupted in applause.

David Hudson, chairman of the university’s trustees, said future generations of students “will be benefitted by their generosity.”

Jim Cole, director of intercollegiate athletics, spoke of the “true test... the love of the university that surpasses, that stands the test of time.” He said the Drakes focus is not on the performance of a particular coach of team but “love for the university that transcends all that.”

Cole described Homer and Ruth Drake as “a great team” and spoke of their “love, commitment and generosity.”

Bobby Lamb, Mercer’s head football coach, said the field house is one of the factors Mercer needs to excel in athletics. “In order to attract student athletes, we need the wow factor,” he said.

“Today is the day when the game I love and the university I love so dearly are coming together,” Homer Drake said. He stated he was glad to be “able to be a part of it in my lifetime.”

Alumnus Richard “Doc” Schneider remarked, “It’s a fabulous day and a great tribute to Judge Drake and to Ruth. They wanted this to happen – and it has happened.”

Schneider also spoke of “this fantastic dream come true and this wonderful facility.”

Mike Kolakowski, defensive coordinator, said it is “just amazing when we walk in here.” The Drake Field House is “a tremendous building,” he added. “It’s a great place for us. ...It’s going to help the recruiting tremendously.”

“Ruth and I, our sons Walter and Taylor and their families are honored indeed and so proud of the Drake Field House and for this very special and most memorable day,” Homer Drake said.

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