Benjamin David Draper was born in Chehalis, Washington on Feb. 18, 1978, the first child of Viki and David Draper. His brother, Zachary, completed the family in 1979 and together they grew up as the fourth generation on the family farm in Independence Valley.
Ben was a proud and enthusiastic member of Lewis County Special Olympics teams for more than 30 years, participating in track, swimming, volleyball, basketball, bowling, soccer and golf. Ben and his mother were pioneers in the process of mainstreaming students with special needs, an often difficult but ultimately rewarding effort.
Ben graduated from Rochester High School in 1998. At age 20, Ben said he wanted to get a job and live in town. So, he lived with roommates and care providers in Centralia. And thus began his long career with Reliable Enterprises, first in the greenhouse and then as a member of the roadside cleanup crew, a job he loved and did well. Ben loved to work. Even when visiting his family home he always wanted to work, especially using the riding lawn mower, the four-wheeler, the leaf blower or any other machinery that he could safely handle.
Ben's hobbies included Googling and reading about famous people, watching movies, going on family trips, reading books and listening to music, especially classical and oldies. He could conduct a CD of a Mozart symphony with impressive style and accuracy.
Ben's sense of humor became legendary in his own time. His one-liners will live on in our memories and bring a welcomed chuckle. He was kind and loving and polite, traits mentioned in so many condolence cards. Ben could make a connection with almost all animals, domestic and wild. So, it is just as well that his dad and Uncle Terry were never successful when he was with them in elk camp year after year high in the Cascades. He loved camp life and about February would start asking how long until hunting season.
In April, Ben was hit by a severe stroke from which he was unable to recover despite his best efforts. Though he was sad about his situation he never complained, and would often engage in joyful things like watching his movies and being loving with his family. On Nov. 15, 2022, while in the arms of his parents in the home where he grew up, Ben died peacefully. Ben's cousin, Barb, sent him a card which perhaps describes his life as accurately as possible. "Some people add to the joy and the good in our lives in ways we hadn't really expected. Hope you know you're one of those important people … and someone I'm lucky to call my friend."
Ben is survived by his brother Zachary Draper, parents Viki and David Draper, Uncle Tim and Aunt Barb Draper, Uncle Terry Schrader and Aunt Mimi Silver, Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Mitchell Godfred, Aunt Joye Morris, Uncle Walt and Aunt Renee Schrader, Aunt Donna Schrader, Aunt Brenda Draper, Aunt Sandi Ames, and many cousins.
During his life he deeply mourned the loss of grandparents Frank and Elsie Schrader, and Russ and Mary Draper, Aunt Jan Draper, Uncle Mike Morris, and cousin Mindi Schrader.
Ben disliked funerals and chose to go to very few, so there will be no service. However, he loved family gatherings and there will be one of those when it can happily be done. Donations in Ben's honor may be made to the scholarship in his late grandmother's name, the Elsie Schrader Scholarship, at Rochester Scholarship Assn., P.O. Box 1, Rochester, Washington, 98579.