Vanessa Louise

(Brown) Drake

Vanessa Louise (Brown) Drake, 60, of Wright and Tempe, Arizona, died Monday, July 22, 2019, in Arizona from complications of an infection.

Funeral services begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Gillette Memorial Chapel with the Rev. Andrew Lee of Wright Baptist Church officiating.

Burial will follow at Mount Pisgah Cemetery.

She was born Oct. 20, 1958, to Sylvia Joyce Brown in Falls View, West Virginia.

Her early years were spent in South Charleston and Summersville, West Virginia, and she attended Spring Hill Junior High School.

The family relocated to Alexandria, Virginia, where she graduated from Mount Vernon High School in June 1976. After graduation, she took a job in the advertising department of the Alexandria Gazette and made a career of working in newspaper advertising.

She moved to Mesa, Arizona, in 1980, to take a position with the Mesa Tribune and over the years was employed by a number of Valley publications.

She met her future husband, Jim Drake, in 1978 and moved to Arizona to be near him while he was attending Mesa Community College and Arizona State University.

The two spent their time traveling around Arizona, often on field trips having to do with his studies. They were married in the Big Horn Mountains on July 31, 1992, and made their home in Tempe, Arizona.

They enjoyed traveling and vacationing throughout the United States and Mexico and one special trip to England.

She loved her dogs, who often traveled with them, and auto races — she was a big fan of Michael Andretti — as well as helping her husband restore and detail classic cars and participate in classic car rallies. She also enjoyed reading and needlepoint.

She was an excellent cook of family recipes and never shied away from trying to prepare a new dish.

Her favorite time was the annual vacation to Wyoming to stay with family on the ranch Jim’s grandfather homesteaded. She truly cherished the time she was able to spend with family at Sunburst Ranch.

After retirement the two became “sunbirds,” remodeling an old house on the ranch and spending the summer months in Wyoming.

She loved her family and always set aside time to check in with friends and family on the phone or go visiting. She was always eager to help and comfort anyone needing assistance and had been active in several charities and Twin Butte Baptist Church. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.

In her later years, she became increasingly restricted by declining health, which limited her travels and vacationing. She left her beloved ranch home to go back to Arizona in January and was hospitalized soon after.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Joyce; and stepfather, Jim Carlson.

Vanessa is survived by her husband, James E. Drake Jr. of Wright and Tempe; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

Memorials and condolences may be sent in Vanessa’s name in care of Gillette Memorial Chapel, 210 W. Fifth St., Gillette, WY 82716.

Condolences also may be expressed at or attached to the obituary at

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