Constituents Deceased list

George Drazic M.S. ’66 was born on March 31, 1927, in Steubenville, Ohio, a first-generation American and oldest son of ethnic Serbian, Pre-WWI immigrants from Austria-Hungary, the late Sava Samuel Drazich and Stana (Bruich) Drazich. George was raised in downtown Steubenville just outside of the Weirton and Wheeling Steel Company gates. On High Street, he was better known by his nickname “Pants.” Everyone on High Street went by a nickname. His buddies were “Bozi, Andy, Shorty, Pie, Yoch, Moose, Chill” and more. He later dropped the “H” from his family name and was AKA George Drazic. He found this action greatly simplified his getting and keeping top-secret clearances in the aerospace industry. During the Cold War not having a Russian-sounding name was important in America. The roots of his engineering career started at an early age when the neighboring Calevero brothers taught him how to build balsawood airplanes. Piece by piece, in the cold, dark cellar on Lake Erie Avenue, he built many planes, a hobby that continued to his adult years. In his teen years, he further enhanced his interest and skills in “structures,” building canvas-covered kayaks with the Rebich brothers down the street. They plied the Ohio River and rode the waves caused by the paddle wheel boats common on the river in the early 1940s. George attended Steubenville High School and played varsity basketball. His skills were honed at the Knights of Columbus gymnasium on South 4th Street. Of note, his high school coach Bill Ellis initiated a far-reaching program, whereby each varsity player coached a fifth and sixth city grade school team for a competition on Saturday mornings at the Big Red gym. George coached the Lincoln Grade School. After graduating from high school in 1944, just a few months after his 17th birthday, he was too young to enlist in the military. However, because he was a very good student, he took the military test and was accepted into an officers training program at the University of Kentucky. He spent a year there. As WWII in Europe was coming to its end, the need for officers was reduced and unfortunately the need for foot soldiers greatly increased. He volunteered for the Army Paratroopers Corps and spent many months training in simulated Japanese towns for the foreboding invasion onto the Japanese mainland. Upon discharge from the Army, George enrolled at The Ohio State University in the aeronautical engineering curriculum. With credits from the University of Kentucky, the GI Bill, and summers working at Weirton Steel, he graduated in June 1950 with a B.S. Being raised on the tough streets and river of Steubenville, as with most of his buddies, he developed a “pugnacious” attitude. While with the high discipline of engineering studies and his youth spent building model airplanes and kayaks, he developed in parallel as a perfectionist. In summary, he was at times, a “pugnacious perfectionist” to the consternation of his family, friends, and coworkers. He also would not, under any circumstances, suffer balderdash from song and dance personalities. George worked for several aerospace companies, but the major portion of his 37-year career was with Convair (General Dynamics) in San Diego and Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. in Sunnyvale. At Convair he worked on the ultra thin-skinned Atlas, the first US ICBM, and the Centaur upper stage booster, the first with a liquid oxygen and hydrogen engine. He spent the last 25 years of his career at Lockheed on top-secret “Black Programs” after completing his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at SCU. Partly because of his respect for secrecy, and partly because of his personal integrity and modesty, his family did not know what he was doing during all those years. Proportionally, losing his security clearance would mean losing his career. It has been 29 years since he retired from Lockheed, and the best guess was that he was an expert “structures” engineer on the 50-foot diameter parabolic radio antennas for spy satellites. During his military service he sought no rank and during his professional career he refused supervisory and management positions. He could not abide the duplicity sometimes required in certain leadership roles. After his retirement from the aerospace industry, George spent his time sailing on Monterey Bay, traveling the world, walking along the pier of Capitola, drinking beer at the “Fog Bank” with his buddies and studying/living the philosophy of the Indian sage, Jiddu Krishnamurti. To paraphrase Goethe, another soul resided within his breast that repelled the other. He was charitable, fun loving, Christian-raised, and supported/encouraged his younger relatives. By his example, three of them are aerospace engineers in Florida and California. A fourth nephew is a very successful engineering entrepreneur in Southern California. George enjoyed 29 years of retirement and his head was clear until the very end, but his body gradually gave out and he died of heart failure at age 89 on Nov. 2, 2016. He was preceded in death in 1978 by his wife, Lillia (Fernandez) Drazich, who had emigrated from Costa Rica. He was also preceded in death by his best friend and cousin Bill Drazich, owner and proprietor of the Ohio State Sports Tavern, formerly at the intersection of Coal Hill and Goulds Roads. George is survived by his sister, Ella May (Drazich) Lazich of North Canton, Ohio; and by his brother, Stephen Drazich of Cocoa Beach, Florida. George and Lillia had no children of their own but had three nephews and four nieces who they truly treasured. He is also survived by his first cousins, local school teachers, Nick Drazich and Nick Medves. He owed modern medical technology and surgeons for the extra 30 years on this earth. George’s instructions were that there would be no services and that his cremated remains be equally spread on Monterey Bay with Lillia’s and on the Ohio River near the Market Street Bridge.

17 Jan 2019