Past PD/GWSS Board Chairman Ben Drake has died following a two-year struggle with cancer. He was also a former member of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. In these capacities and in so many more local and statewide positions of leadership in agriculture, Ben gave freely of his time and his experience in service to his beloved Temecula Valley and the larger agricultural community. Ben was instrumental in the formation, funding, and development of the original Pierce’s Disease Control Program, and that was merely the beginning of his story, his contributions, and his value for our organization.
Ben knew grapes. He knew water. He knew a thing or two about avocados and 4-H and very long list of other topics in the agricultural realm. But he was also quick with a joke or a good story. A staff member here at CDFA recalls first meeting Ben back in 1999, shortly after the discovery of Pierce’s disease in Temecula vineyards. It was a time of high stress and dire predictions, and tensions were high. But as Ben invited several car-loads of colleagues through the front gate at his place, the first thing he did was talk about his kids. As busy as life was, he had a firm and healthy grasp on priorities.
Those dire early predictions about the future of his local vineyards have not come true, and Ben’s own efforts played no small part in ensuring that. For those of you who were fortunate enough to serve on the PD/GWSS Board with Ben or otherwise enjoyed his company, you know what we have all lost – and what we gained from his presence, his service, and his friendship.
Raise your glasses high. Thank you, Ben.