Alvin Earl "Jack" Drews was born February 27, 1926 in Houston, Texas to Fred Charles and Julia Schubert Drews, the eighth of eleven children. He was a combat veteran of the Central European theater in World War II and a lifelong member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. He was married for fifty-five years to Jacquelyn Florene Reno Drews and the father of two children, Jack Reno Drews and Helen Juliann "Julie" Drews May. He died peacefully on July 6, 2013, in Houston.
Perhaps the best way to get a sense of who the man was is to hear some of the stories he told. For example, having recently moved to Houston from Lee County, Texas, his parents tried to blend a rural agricultural existence with urban jobs in modern Houston. So, improbably even for his time and place, before he was a teenager Jack would tend the family's cattle on horseback near the banks of Braes Bayou and near the present-day site of the Galleria. And later in life, if he spotted an unusually large flock of pigeons in greater Bellaire, Jack would speak of the time in the 1930s when his father left the family and it was necessary to release the hundreds of pigeons that the family raised for squab.
Jack's childhood spanned the Great Depression. His brother Bobby died as a child and his brother Rupert and sister Edna died as very young adults.
During World War II, as a teenager Jack enlisted in the Army as a volunteer. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge with the Third Army under General Patton. His division assisted in the relief of Bastogne and liberated several concentration camps, including Dachau. He was an antitank gun crewman and received a Combat Infantryman Badge. He was awarded an American Theater Campaign Ribbon, an Eame Campaign Ribbon with one Bronze Star, a Good Conduct Medal, a Victory Ribbon with one Overseas Service Bar, and a Purple Heart. Jack was honorably discharged in April 1946.
One story that Jack told about the war is particularly illustrative. Near the end of the war, he and three lieutenants were assigned to guard a captured Nazi facility. Jack stood guard all night in the cold rain because the lieutenants inside had failed to relieve him when his watch was supposed to be over. When Jack walked back into the facility at dawn, it was apparent that the lieutenants had spent the night drinking and were bullying a civilian German woman who had come to clean the room. As Jack entered the room, one of the lieutenants moved to grab the woman, at which point Jack leveled his rifle at the lieutenant, prepared it for firing, and said, "If you touch her, I'll kill you, and having spent all night in the rain when you three were supposed to relieve me, I might just keep firing." Under the circumstances, he got away with pointing a firearm at a superior officer and threatening him with summary execution but it is doubtful they loved him for it.
Except for his military service, Jack was a lifelong resident of Houston. He attended San Jacinto High School. After his discharge from the Army he studied engineering at the University of Houston until the birth of his first child. Working in that field during the summer, Jack discovered that, after his work in the outdoors as a youth and experiences in combat, an office job was not for him. Jack became a plumber, an occupation he excelled at and worked in into his seventies.
Jack and Jacquelyn were married at Trinity Lutheran Church on June 19, 1949. They were expert square dancers, enjoyed playing cards with family and friends, and enjoyed annual family vacations in Wimberley. An active and involved father, Jack attended almost all of his children's many athletic contests and theater performances in school. Later he was a devoted grandfather, enjoying time with his grandchildren and following their activities with great interest.
Jack was a reader and deep thinker all his life and keenly interested in many subjects, including theology, music, history, and current events. He enjoyed nature, hunting, and the family's pet dogs. In middle age he was an actor in church theater performances. In his sixties he took personal development courses at Rice University.
A deeply religious man, Jack was a long-time member of Trinity Lutheran Church on Houston Avenue, where at different times he served as a church elder, a church trustee, Chairman of the Board of Education of Trinity Lutheran School, and Vice President of the congregation. He taught Sunday School at Trinity for many years. He was especially interested in Lutheran education and served for many years on the board of the Lutheran High School Association. Jack's children and grandson Brad graduated from Trinity Lutheran School and Lutheran high schools in Houston.
Jack was an exceptionally honest and hard-working man who took his family responsibilities extremely seriously. Having labored hard since his youth, Jack looked forward to a peaceful and enjoyable retirement, but it was not to be. In his sixties and seventies, while struggling with his own heart-related problems, Jack spent nine difficult years caring for his wife Jacquelyn after she was stricken with Alzheimer's disease.
After breaking his hip not long after his wife's death, Jack spent seven years in assisted living. The family would like to thank the devoted staff of the Forum at Memorial Woods and Odyssey Hospice Care for their kindness and excellent care (including among many others Madeline Goldsmith).
Jack was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, his brothers Rupert, Fred, and Robert, and his sisters Irene and Edna. He is survived by his sisters Annie Ruth, Doris, Dorothy, and Grace, and his brother Lyle. He is also survived by his son Jack and daughter-in-law Elizabeth Drews of Austin, his daughter Julie May of Houston, his grandchildren Brad May of Houston, Matthew Drews of Washington, D.C. and Katherine "Katie" Drews of Austin, several in-laws and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be at Forest Park Lawndale at 5-9 P.M. on Tuesday, July 9. The funeral will be at Trinity Lutheran Church, 800 Houston Avenue, Houston at 10 A.M. on Wednesday, July 10. Pallbearers will include Brad May, Matthew Drews, Terry May, Kevin Juergen, William Harkrider, and Robert Wottrich. Jack's nephew Chris Drews will play taps at the graveside service. Jack will be buried at Forest Park Lawndale, beside his wife.
The family requests that in lieu of giving flowers, persons wishing to remember Jack consider making a donation to the tuition endowment programs at Trinity Lutheran School, 800 Houston Avenue, Houston, Texas, or Lutheran South Academy in light of Jack's lifelong interest in Lutheran education.