Lawrence James Drew Obituary
Lawrence (Larry) James Drew passed away on November 24, 2022, in Fairfax, VA at the age of 81, succumbing to pneumonia. Larry is survived by his son Michael Drew, daughter-in-law Michelle Drew, and granddaughters Cassidy and Rebecca Drew.
Larry was born on December 18, 1940, in Queens, New York as the only child to mother Olive Drew, née McAfee, and father James Drew. Shortly after birth, the family moved to the small town of Lempster, NH near Olive’s family home. Larry grew up there enjoying the rural New England sustenance farming lifestyle, which included plenty of hard work as well as hunting and fishing. He graduated from Towle High School in Newport in 1958 and went on to the University of New Hampshire where he received a BS degree in Geology and Chemistry.
He continued his education at Penn State, where he received his MS and PhD in Mineralogy and Statistics, completing his graduate work in 1966. During his time at Penn State, he met an undergraduate named Sheila Collins from Philadelphia, PA. The two wed in the fall of 1966, and were married for 52 years until Sheila’s passing in 2018.
After their wedding, Larry’s career brought them out west to Denver, CO, and later to Tulsa, OK, but they eventually settled back east in the Washington D.C. suburbs when Larry achieved his goal of becoming a research geologist for the United States Geological Survey in Reston, VA. Larry took great pride in his professional career, and during his tenure at the USGS he published over 100 scientific papers, authored and co-authored three books, and traveled the world attending conferences and collaborating with other scientists. He was honored several times throughout his career for exceptional contributions to the field. A raconteur, Larry’s technical talks were frequently enlivened by amusing and insightful anecdotes that illustrated his points. In 2000, he received the John Cedric Griffiths Teaching Award, and in 2010 he received the William Christian Krumbein Medal from the International Association for Mathematical Geosciences.
Larry’s interests were not limited to his career or academics alone. Throughout his life, he pursued several hobbies, often enrolling in night classes in topics as varied as chair caning to auto body repair. Despite living in the Virginia suburbs, he never gave up his rural New England roots, and his most enduring hobbies involved gardening, canning, and chopping firewood, which was used as the primary source of heat despite the house having a perfectly functional furnace!
His scientific mind and pursuit of knowledge extended beyond the physical world as well. He became an amateur student of theology and was an active member of McLean Presbyterian Church for many years, contributing as a Deacon and an Elder. In later years, he was a regular attender of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, and of First Baptist Church in Newport, NH whenever he was in town.
Despite his worldwide travels and success, Larry always held his humble beginnings in high regard. Throughout his life and routine visits to his childhood home, he became the de facto town historian, and every August would find him giving a talk at Lempster’s Old Home Day festival where he would bring to life a portion of the town’s history, having spent countless hours of research in libraries scouring old newspapers and books.
Never bashful, Larry enjoyed sharing his stories and knowledge with anyone willing to listen, usually with a generous amount of dry wit and humor. He never took himself too seriously, and was happy to be the target of good-natured ribbing – be it about the stain on his shirt, or the old car that he drove. With all his professional successes, he held his wife and son in the highest regard, and conveyed through words and actions that they were his most significant accomplishments in life. After his retirement, and Sheila’s passing, Larry continued working in his garden, and preparing for each winter by sawing and stacking firewood. He remained social with neighbors, fellow church members, and former USGS colleagues – many of whom would join him at their regular Friday night gatherings at the Cracker Barrel.
There is a memorial service planned for Monday, December 19 at 11 am at the Adams-Green funeral home at 721 Elden Street, Herndon VA, 20170. A reception will follow at 12:30 pm at the Amphora restaurant at 1151 Elden Street, Herndon, VA 20171.
In honor of Larry’s love for animals, please consider donating to your local animal shelter in lieu of flowers.