On a warm Friday night before Alice High School’s homecoming game, an old but familiar voice greeted everyone in Memorial Stadium.
It was that of longtime stadium announcer George Draper.
Alice board member Ben Salinas had seen Draper at a doctor’s office days earlier. Salinas mentioned it to his wife who then recommended that he work it out so that Draper could announce at least at one more Coyote game. Salinas put Alice athletic director Kyle Atwood and Draper in touch and they worked it out.
Without anyone really knowing it was going to happen, Draper opened the pregame announcements in Memorial Stadium before the Coyotes’ game against Miller.
True to form and like he had for so many years before, his voice boomed across the stadium with the elegance, grace and dignity which made him as much of Memorial Stadium as the hearty turf and iconic concrete bleachers. Draper, who was the Memorial Stadium voice of the Alice Coyotes between 1960 and 2008, ended his short stay before the microphone with a few heartfelt words.
“I’d like to say thank you… thank you to the fans. Thank you to the team, and thank you to the host of coaches that I’ve seen over the years, and to the school and the 40 years of teaching which were so important to me,” Draper said.
It turns out those were Draper's final words over Memorial Stadium.
Draper passed away Thursday afternoon from a longtime illness. He was surrounded by family and in hospice care in San Antonio at the time of his death, a family friend said. Services and funeral arrangements are pending.
Draper was a government and economics teacher in Alice for 40 years. He was probably best known for his voice, which presided over nearly every Alice game for almost half a century.
The Alice school district remembered Draper on its Facebook page with a quote and a short biography.
“It’s hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember,” the tribute began.
It ended with “…we extend our deepest sympathies to his friends and family and all of those he leaves behind. We will miss you, Sir!”