Home > Media, Rememberance > Paul Draisey, 1956-2012

Paul Draisey, 1956-2012

These words are hopelessly inadequate so please forgive me. But something really needs to be said about Paul Draisey. Professionally, he’ll be remembered as a radio-guy, the voice of Loudoun County, Virginia for some four decades. Hell, he was the unofficial Mayor of Loudoun County.

He hired me into my very first radio job at WAGE-AM, in Leesburg, Virginia in 1977. He successfully trained me for my 3rd class FCC license you used to have to get in those days to go on the air and be able to turn the transmitters on and off. He was one of those handful of people in my life who decided to take a chance on a green, hungry kid who was looking for a future and fell in love, like Paul did, with the medium of radio. It would become a career. It will be 35 years this September. I have him to thank for every penny made and for every accomplishment I have ever achieved in the radio business.

Paul knew everyone and everyone knew Paul. He was tight with the Sheriff’s deputies, the fire and rescue folks, the politicians, teachers, coaches, businessmen and women, just about every charity that ever turned up in Loudoun County. I’ve never really known anyone before or since who so respected, honored and epitomized “community.”

Paul and I kept in touch sporadically through the years, more so when Facebook came along. He read this blog from time to time.

I know he was proud of me as the 19-year-old kid he hired would go on to work at networks like CBS and CNN and ABC and now NPR. In fact, I know, because he told me, that when I took over CNNRadio back in the 1990’s, he had WAGE switch radio networks to CNN. That, my friends, is loyalty.

Let me quote a colleague of Paul’s interviewed for the local Loudoun County newspaper because, really, my own words are beginning to fail me here. These are the observations of Dave Scarangella, another alum of WAGE Radio.

He was a man who cared about Loudoun County and freely devoted his time to a lot of causes, from the USO to the Middleburg Fire Department. He emceed well over a hundred charity events in his lifetime, freely mentored any person who needed help, and seemed to remember ever athlete, coach, politician and businessman he ever met. He was a special person and a great friend.

They say that the measure of a man’s success in life is how many friends he makes along the way. In that regard, Paul was the most successful man I ever knew. He will be missed.

The day Paul died I happened to read something about death that left me deeply moved. The belief by some Native American tribes that a person dies twice in life. The first, is the physical death; the passing of the body. The second death is when all those you ever knew and remembered you also pass; the death of the memory of the individual.

One of those we can do nothing about. But that second death- it is absolutely in our power to pass the word, from generation to generation, to as many people as possible, about the life and good works of those, like Paul, who gave so much of themselves to make their families and their communities whole.

So these words, Paul- are for you, my friend. They are also for your family- your wife, Donna and your kids Brad and Kyle Draisey and Kristen Stennett, to your half-brother, Bill Torrey, and to everyone who never even knew you but whose lives would have been richer if they had.

We love you and we will remember you and we will pass your memory on forever.

  1. Mollie Dodson
    April 18, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I am one of those people that you touched, i will never forget.

  2. Dave Scarangella
    April 19, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Well said. And over the 6 years I knew him, when we would talk about the “old” days, invariably one of the stories always involved Robert Garcia. You were one of his prize prodigies and he talked about you the same way he talked about his own sons…

  3. April 19, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Dave- are you trying to make a grown man cry because I can barely see the keyboard right now. Thanks for posting that video on FB. It was nice to see him and hear him. You’re a pretty damn good sportscaster, Mr. Scarangella. And your tribute to Paul in the paper was beautiful and heartfelt. I look forward to meeting you, sir.

  4. April 19, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Oh Robert. You’ve gone and made me cry, again. What a lovely, moving tribute to our friend. You and Paul and I were like the Three Musketeers back then in the WAGE newsroom, weren’t we? Shoot, I was just out of college- not even graduated actually, when I first started- and Paul taught me everything from how to cut and splice tape to how to work the mic to how to get Leesburg Mayor Kenny Rollins to spill his guts with a mic stuck in front of his mouth. We all absorbed Paul’s pride in good community radio, his high standards of professionalism, his keen grasp of what made a “great radio story” and dammit, we had a hell of a local news department, didn’t we? You and I were lucky enough to have the Best Teacher imaginable. I wonder if Paul ever really knew how important he was to either of us, personally AND professionally. I don’t even know if I ever told him how grateful I was. I wish I had, because now it’s all I can think about.

    As for you, my friend, let me take this opportunity now to tell you how important YOU were to me. Your energy, your enthusiasm, your intellect, your sharp news instincts & great writing, your wonderful sense of humor, your indefatigable gumption, and your innate kindness…you also helped form me back in those early days. I’m so thankful we were blessed with that moment in time that was OURS. On a little radio station in a little town for little money….back when anything seemed possible.

  5. April 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Thank you for your kind words about Paul, and to me. You were also one of his prized students. When you were teamed up with Jim London on KIX radio and took Washington by storm, it just affirmed what we already knew about the incredible talent and charm we all spotted right away in you. I know you lost Jim this year too. I lost Jon Petrovich, the CNN executive who brought me to Atlanta. We both lost WAGE when it went dark a couple of years ago, and last month CNN Radio turned out the lights. And now, Paul. If you didn’t know better, it would seem like our entire past is disappearing with the sands of time. But we do know better, Mary. And it has fallen to us to remind people of the legacies of these extraordinary individuals and remarkable institutions that are no longer with us. It’s ok. Time marches on. As long as we remember where we came from- that’s the important thing.

  6. NALR
    May 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    His memory will live on, and not necessarily in a good way, now that he is posthumously suspected of embezzling almost $500,000 from the Middleburg Volunteer Fire Department, for which he was the treasurer and his son was the president.

    …freely devoted his time to a lot of causes, from the USO to the Middleburg Fire Department…

    So his time wasn’t devoted all that “freely” after all .. it will cost the Middleburg FD and Loudoun taxpayers quite a bit for this guy’s “time.”

  7. May 8, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Stunning and tragic. I really feel for the family…and for the Middleburg VFD. I remain grateful for his kindness to me and so many others through the years, but this really is very, very sad.

  8. ejgnik
    May 9, 2012 at 2:33 am

    One cannot defend these kinds of actions but endeavor to try to understand them.

    When these things occur to folks of his character, a type of disorder is implied (npd or something similar, perhaps) that they cannot control; no different than a person with any other kind of disorder, untreated, and kept private. Apparently, until it could be hidden no longer and he could not bear the thought of what had happened.

    All of Mr. Garcia’s comments are true. He did incredible things for the community. Things of a quantity and magnitude that no one who, rightfully or not, criticizes Paul, could come close to matching. He was emcee of the Joe Gibbs Youth for Tomorrow benefits and countless others in the area; he put together the community effort to bring the little league world series to Loudoun. While certainly not an endorsement of anything he is accused of, in monetary terms he gave far more to the community over his lifetime than he is accused of having gleaned through the sad demon of his condition. Yes, he gave more than any of us who might criticize him ever could or will.

    The community needs to support his family and Middleburg VFD in every way, as neither knew what was afoot, are shocked, devastated and need it now more than ever.

    • NALR
      May 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      “…He did incredible things for the community … of a quantity and magnitude that no one who … criticizes Paul, could come close to matching…”

      ejgnik: That would be YOUR biased and uninformed opinion of someone (or likely, more than just one person) you know nothing about. Also, there is a distinction (perhaps difficult to comprehend by someone [you] who unflinchingly refuses to “criticize” someone who stole money from a volunteer, critically-need community service organization) between “criticism” and stating mere facts.

      But go ahead with your blind criticism – I will continue with my factual “criticism.”

  9. May 9, 2012 at 4:36 am

    @EJGNIK- Thank you so much for your clarity and your compassion expressed in such an extraordinarily articulate manner. Anyone who knew Paul and reads your comment will take solace as we struggle to reconcile how such a large moral failing could have been committed by a man who gave so much of himself to his community. And you are so right about supporting the family and the VFD. This is a tragedy atop a tragedy and they really need our love and support right now.

  10. ejgnik
    May 10, 2012 at 6:29 am

    My post was meant as a reply to Mr. Garcia, not NALR. Mr. Garcia is connected with many media sources and many have ugly comments on the subject as Mr. Garcia is aware; the post was addressing them in general.

  11. Lynn
    May 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I went to school with Paul from first grade up until 11th grade when my family moved away. He is the sweetest and I will always have nothing but wonderful memories of him.

  12. KyleDraisey
    October 5, 2012 at 3:44 am

    @NALR, I am glad you are able to see so much black and white in a grey world. You are right, my father embezzled money from the Fire Department and took his own life when it caught up with him. According to his note and what I’ve been able to piece together, his business was failing and he ‘borrowed’ thinking he would use it as a short term fix until his business came back, but it didnt and he got deeper and deeper into his delusion. His pride and most likely his ego had him ‘cook his books’ to hide it from my mother and brother and a failure of leadership at all levels of Fire and Rescue in Loudoun County to enforce the auditing policies helped him delay the inevitable. However, @ejgnik is also correct. My father did do a lot for his community and did so out of love for where he came from. In the end, he f**ked up and did something that I cannot defend, yet that cannot completely moot all the good he had done. This is just my opinion writ under my own name instead of an acronym.

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