Dr. Everett L. Drewes honors family and beloved teachers
The Everett L. Drewes, M.D. Scholarship Fund will benefit generations of Tulane University students. (Photo provided by Drewes family)
February 20, 2013
In the 1930s, it took a village of women to convince Everett Lucas Drewes to go to college. Now, their efforts will live on forever.
Drewes, who died in 2011, has left more than $2.5 million to Tulane University to endow a scholarship fund in memory of five women who encouraged his journey through school and a successful medical career.
As a teenager growing up in New Orleans in midst of the Great Depression, Drewes did not have money for college tuition. Two teachers from Alcee Fortier High School in New Orleans saw his potential: Sarah Towles Reed, a 1904 Newcomb College graduate, and her sister, Roberta Towles (NC ’24). Winner of a competitive Newcomb College award herself, Reed even helped Drewes apply for a scholarship at Tulane.
Tulane will use the bequest to directly benefit students through the creation in December 2012 of the Everett L. Drewes, M.D. Scholarship Fund for academic scholarships. The Drewes scholarship is named in memory of the Towles sisters as well as Drewes’ mother, Margaret Drewes; niece Hilda H. Blum; and mother-in-law Lillie S. Martin. The gift is from Drewes and his late wife, Mary Postelle Martin Drewes.
“He had great respect for the women in his life,” says Darla Kemp, Everett Drewes’ great-niece and caretaker.
Everett Drewes was born in uptown New Orleans in 1914, the only child of Margaret and Steven Drewes. His parents ran a general store out of their home in the 700 block of Constantinople Street. Drewes was part of a loving family, but tragedy struck at an early age. He was only 11 when his father was killed in an on-the-job accident at a New Orleans loading dock.
Drewes finished eighth grade and enrolled at Delgado Trade School hoping to get a job to support his mother. He graduated with a degree in architectural drafting in 1931, but entered Alcee Fortier High School when he couldn’t find work. Drewes excelled at Fortier, winning an award during senior year for an essay titled, “The Past Benefits and Future Importance to Man of the Control of Disease-Bearing Mosquitoes.” Despite his good grades, he didn’t plan to go to college until Reed and her sister contacted him about a Tulane scholarship.
Drewes attended Tulane from 1934 to 1937 but did not graduate. He transferred to Louisiana State University School of Medicine to pursue his studies in obstetrics-gynecology before returning to New Orleans after graduation.
After serving as a doctor for Orleans Parish Schools, Drewes enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1954, beginning active duty at the naval hospital in Pensacola, Fla. He was honorably discharged two years later and returned to New Orleans to establish a private medical practice. He was also on staff at Mercy Hospital in Mid-City, where he became president in 1977. He retired from medicine in 1990.
Kemp describes her uncle as brilliant and creative. “He had so many interests and pursued them all,” she says. In addition to his thriving medical career, he raised prize-winning orchids in a greenhouse in his backyard, built a 15-foot mahogany cruiser by hand, wrote short stories and collected stamps, coins and cigar bands.
‘He lived a rich life’
Drewes married Mary Postelle Martin in 1946. The two were set up on a blind date—an evening of cards at her older brother’s home. They were an item from that night until her death six decades later.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, the couple, both 91 years old, stayed in the home Everett Drewes designed and built for them in the Lakeshore neighborhood of New Orleans. Mary Drewes was wheelchair-bound and too sick to evacuate. Kemp remembers her uncle’s words: “‘I’m staying with my patient.’”
With not much more than the clothes they were wearing, the husband and wife evacuated after the storm on a bus to Thibodaux. Mary went to live in a nursing home while Everett was taken in by Martha and Russell Saragusa, a kind family who lived nearby and helped him visit his wife almost daily. Mary died in January 2006, and Everett moved back home to New Orleans the next month. He continued raising orchids, studying French and playing the organ up until his death. “He lived a rich life,” Kemp says.
Knowing the profound impact his generosity could have, Drewes decided before his death that his gift to Tulane would support scholarships. The scholarship he received from Tulane allowed him to achieve his goal of becoming a doctor. “It was important to him to provide other students the same opportunity,” Kemp says.
Kemp tears up when she thinks about the generations of students who will be impacted by her uncle’s endowment.
“As a teacher and a loving relative, I’m very proud.”
To support endowed scholarships at Tulane University, you can contribute to a previously endowed fund or establish your own, add to it over the years or include it in your estate plan. Contact Gift Planning at Tulane to discuss the possibilities.
Mary Sparacello is a writer in the Office of Development.
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