SACRAMENTO – That he was still seeing patients at age 99 was a testament to his expertise and dedication to the mental stability of the local community.
Pioneering Black psychiatrist Dr. Carl Everett Drake, Sr. died of natural causes at his Sacramento home on December 27.
Dr. Drake was one of the city’s first African American physicians.
Born on August 21, 1913, in Neptune, New Jersey, Dr. Drake was the second son of James and Lucy Bingham Drake.
As a youth, Drake was an outstanding student and multi-sport athlete. He held the state’s high school long jump record (New Jersey) for more than 25 years.
His skill on the football field took him to Baltimore, Maryland’s Morgan State College, which in the 1930s was the top ranked college football program available to African American players. He became captain and the school’s team that went undefeated throughout his entire college career.
It was at Morgan State that he met a studious co-ed, Beatrice Hayes, whom he married in 1937. She became a social worker and he, having left school a few credits short of graduation, took a job at the local post office.
Over the next few years, the couple added two children, Carl Jr. and Beatrice to their family.
A back injury kept Drake from active military service, so he re-enrolled in college to obtain his degree.
At the urging of his wife, Drake applied to medical school in 1944. He could not attend the segregated University of Maryland, but under the “separate but equal” rule of Jim Crow laws, the state of Maryland paid his tuition to attend Meharry Medical College, in Nashville, Tennessee, instead.
Drake moved to Nashville and worked the graveyard shift as a hospital orderly to earn money to send for his wife and children.
He finished medical school in 1949 and moved to New York City to intern at Harlem Hospital.
After interning in New York, Dr. Drake and his family, which now included a new baby boy, Michael, moved to Englewood, New Jersey. Dr. Drake would work graveyard in the emergency room at Harlem Hospital from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. followed by a junior partnership in a local physician’s office from 9:00 a.m. until noon, then after dinner, he’d see patients in a makeshift medical office in his home until 9:00 p.m. before returning for his 11:00 p.m. shift at the Harlem Hospital.
Of his level of commitment, Dr. Drake would say that he was mainly “grateful for a chance to work.”
At age 40, Dr. Drake began training in psychiatry. He continued his home practice to support his family, which now included another son, Barry.
In 1958, the family made a “bold move,” relocating across the country to Sacramento. Prior to the move, no one in their family had even been west of Tennessee. In Sacramento Dr. Drake worked for the State during the day and ran a small private practice at night.
The Drakes became active in a small circle of middle class African Americans, many who were leaders in business and civic endeavors.
Dr. Drake’s wife eventually retired in 1975, while he continued to see patients for many years. He finally closed his practice, at age 90, to take care of his ailing wife.
Beatrice Drake passed away in 2008. The two had been married for 70 years.
Dr. Drake renewed his medical license in 2008. He also became active again in his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc.
He started seeing patients again, and worked for the state of California, conducting disability evaluations. Dr. Drake saw his last patient on December 12, 2012, before taking a break for the holidays. He even had patients booked for January 2013, but passed away a day after sharing a post-Christmas visit with his children and grandchildren.
Family members say that Dr. Carl Drake left this life as he lived it — “with great dignity and grace.”
He is survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, 16 great-great grandchildren and thousands of patients.
Services are planned for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 26 at Morgan Jones Funeral Home, located at 4200 Broadway.