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Social and Civic Whirl: Margaret Lamb Drake retired Norfolk educator dies at 102 years of age

After a long illness, at Sentara Nursing Home in Chesapeake, Margaret Lamb Drake died at the age of 102 years. Born in the Huntersville section of Norfolk, to Norfolk natives John L. Lamb and Carrie Douglas Lamb, Margaret attended public schools in Norfolk graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in 1930.

Following graduation from high school, Margaret matriculated at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) graduating in 1935 with a degree in Health and Physical Education. While at Hampton, she had the opportunity to spend a semester, as an exchange student, at Vassar College in Poukeepsie, New York. Margaret Lamb followed in the footsteps of her mother Carrie and her aunt Lucille Douglas, both educators, and began her teaching career, from 1935 to 1943, in the public schools of Blackstone, Accomac County and Hampton, Virginia.

From February 1944 to 1946, Margaret Lamb volunteered with the American Red Cross’s Overseas Mobile Service Unit in England, France and Germany, in active battle zones, serving hot coffee and fresh donuts from retro-fitted trucks known as “Club Mobiles” to American and Allied soldiers. While stationed in Germany, Ms. Lamb met Sergeant Edwin S. Shirley, Jr. and brought him to Norfolk for a December 25, 1946 wedding.

In 1947, Mrs. Shirley resumed her teaching career, in Health and Physical Education, at Hampton Institute and also earned a Master’s Degree. Following the birth of her son, Edwin, III, Margaret joined her husband, who was in Howard University’s medical school, taught at Howard and later at Cardoza High School. When she and her husband ended their marriage, Mrs. Shirley returned to Norfolk, in 1951, with her son and began her long and rewarding career in the public school system of Norfolk teaching Health and Physical Education at D. G. Jacox Junior High School on Marshall Avenue. After a little over ten years of teaching, Margaret became a guidance counselor. A believer in lifelong learning, Margaret Lamb Drake attended several institutions of higher education and completed a Certificate of Advanced Studies Degree, in 1973, at The College of William and Mary. With the new Certificate, in hand, she served in several administrative positions with Norfolk’s school board prior to being appointed, in 1975, as Supervisor of Health and Physical Education. During her tenure, Margaret Drake supervised nearly 100 physical education teachers and coaches in Norfolk’s public schools and helped many students and other professionals along the way. Margaret Lamb Drake retired from the position as Supervisor of Health and Physical Education, in January 1982, after over thirty years of service in Norfolk’s public school system.

Although Margaret Drake retired from her public school and college teaching and administrative duties, after nearly 50 years of service, she continued being an advocate for fitness and service to the community. This energetic and young – at-heart woman taught aerobics, yoga, jazzercise and aquatic exercises, in local community centers, well into her eighties. Margaret served as President of the Norfolk Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority from 1964-1966; was an active member of The Woman’s Club of Norfolk, a civic organization approaching 100 years, in 2016, of service to the community; the Tidewater Chapter of the American Lung Association; The American Red Cross; and the Bugs.

Mrs. Drake was the widow of Rev. W. D. Drake, whom she married in 1958, the pastor of St. John A. M. E. Zion Church in Sunbury, North Carolina and who had also pastured at St. Luke A. M. E. Zion Church in Franklin, Virginia. Her legacy will always remain in the hearts of her son, Edwin, III; daughter-in-law, Patricia Clay Shirley; two granddaughters Erica Shirley and Yvonne Shirley; and other close relatives and friends.

Margaret Lamb Drake lived her life as in the words of one of her favorite hymns “If I can help somebody … then my living shall not be in vain.” Her living, a life well lived, was definitely not in VAIN!!!

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