Almond Jerkins “A.J.” Drake, Jr., a native of Pinetops, NC, passed away on Saturday, January 12 at his home surrounded by family. A.J. was born on January 9, 1932 in Edgecombe County to parents Almond J. Drake, Sr. and Annie Best Drake. He graduated from South Edgecombe High School in 1950 and began farming. On November 16, 1952, A.J. married Sallie Pender Anderson.
A.J. and his brother Brooks grew tobacco and cotton and raised hogs, and turned a fledgling operation into Drake Farms. Over the years, he mentored many young farmers in the area. He was a lifelong member of Pinetops Baptist Church, and served as a deacon for many years. A charter member of the South Edgecombe Rural Fire Department, A.J. served as Fire Chief from 1964 to 1982. He loved quail hunting with his bird dogs. A.J. also enjoyed fishing, reading, and especially spending time with his grandkids.
A.J. is survived by his three children and nine grandchildren: Zora Drake Richman (James) of Pinetops; Almond Jerkins Drake, III (Lori) of Farmville; and Paul Allen Drake (Melissa) of Pinetops; grandchildren: Katherine Drake Stowe (Sadler) of Holly Springs; Matthew Drake (Kaitlin) of Pinetops; and Morgan Drake of Norfolk, VA; Jacquelyn Drake of Greenville; Almond J. Drake, IV of Greenville; Andrea Drake of Farmville; Amanda Drake and (Nick Bartlett) of Durham; Joanna Drake of New York City, and Lori Abigail Drake of Chapel Hill.
A.J. was survived by sister Maude Drake Turner (deceased 01/13/2019), and is survived by sister Alice Drake Williams, and many loving nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Sallie Anderson Drake; his parents, Almond J. Drake, Sr. and Annie Best Drake; sisters Dora Lee Drake Moore, Mary Drake Stallings, Eva Drake Bunn, and Virginia Drake Dennis and brother Edwin Brooks Drake.
Visitation will take place on Sunday, January 13 from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the home of Paul and Melissa Drake. The memorial service and celebration of life will be held on Monday, January 21 at 5:00 p.m. at Pinetops Baptist Church with visitation to follow in Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Pinetops Baptist Church.