Government

Marion City Council member Paul Draper dies

He loved the city and knew its history, colleagues say

Paul Draper
Paul Draper

MARION — Marion City Council member Paul Draper died Thursday, three months after being re-elected to his third term on the council. He was 85.

His death marks the loss of a leader and a “sad day” for the city, Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said.

“It’s hard to find a bigger supporter and a more staunch advocate of Marion,” AbouAssaly said of Draper. “He supported making Marion better for future generations.”

The mayor said he admired Draper’s determination to keep going, even with his health concerns.

“He never let his health issues defeat him or keep him from continuing to serve and do his best for Marion, and that’s a great example for all of us.”

Draper operated an insurance agency in Marion for many years and was proud of his community, being named Citizen of the Year in 2012. He was first elected to the city council in 2011 and re-elected as an at-large member last November.

Draper sent a letter of resignation to the city council that was read at the Thursday council meeting.

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In the letter, Draper talked about his love for the city and how proud he was to serve its residents but said he could not continue council duties because of his health.

AbouAssaly said council members will discuss how to fill the council vacancy at their Feb. 20 meeting.

Draper often spent time after council meetings sharing the history of Marion with council members and constituents.

“I always called him a walking history book,” AbouAssaly said. “He knew so many details of Marion’s rich history, ever since it was founded in 1839. He ended every city council meeting with a history lesson. He gave us perspective on where Marion has been, and taught us it’s important to care about history.”

Draper also loved collecting cars and would bring toy cars to the council chambers.

AbouAssaly said Draper was unable to attend the mayor’s State of the City address last month, but wanted AbouAssaly to tell everyone “Marion is not Mayberry anymore,” referring to the small-town setting of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

“He was so proud of Marion’s progress,” AbouAssaly said. “On a personal level, I’m going to miss Paul very much.”

Marion City Council member Colette Atkins also counted Draper as “a dear friend.

“Paul Draper is Marion,” she said. “He is an institution in our community, and every single one of us, whether we knew Paul or not, are going to miss him.”

Atkins said Draper welcomed her to the council, answered her questions and gave her insight into how the city operates.

He also was supportive of women in leadership positions, she said.

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“That’s one of the things that’s really cool about Paul Draper,” Atkins said. “He was a citizen of Marion for a very long time, but he was always forward-thinking.”

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