Posted by Peter Lagarias on Feb 24, 2022
Editor's Note:  John Dracup passed away on December 20, 2021. Below is a story shared by Peter Lagarias, President of the Rotary Club of San Francisco in 1992-1993. Peter went on to become District Governor in Rotary District 5150 in 2001-2002.
One day John Dracup came to our Rotary lunch at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, and by happenstance, he sat next to me. He was wearing his black horn-rimmed glasses and a pork-pie hat, looking altogether professorial. He was considering joining the Rotary Club of San Francisco because he had heard that Rotary was involved in water projects around the world. He added that he was an emeritus professor of civil engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. I told him that I was a Cal graduate. From that day onward, we became fast friends, and he steadily queried me for knowledge about Rotary with purpose. John was determined to serve.
John was taking his Cal students on field trips to Guatemala to install water purification equipment in villages with none. He always sat with me at Rotary lunches and regaled me with stories of bio-sand filter purification systems that his students were installing under his pupilage. It seems that slimy plant and bacteria on top of sand could filter dirty dank water into potable water. After showing me pictures of the villagers and students at work, I mentioned that our Club had grants through the San Francisco Rotary Foundation. John applied, was funded, and more projects ensued. Thank you to the San Francisco Rotary Foundation.
One day John came to me asking about a Rotary Foundation Global Grant program. Now he was working on a project to bring water purification to Remba Isalnd located in Kenya on Lake Victoria. As a long ago Past District Governor who had failed to keep up (or remember) the intricacies of the Rotary Foundation grant programs, I did what most members of our Club do; I referred him to then District Governor Eric Schmautz. John got the grant, and over three years and multiple on-site visits, established the sustainable program for clean drinking water on Remba Island.
John became active in WASHRAG, a Rotary International fellowship dedicated to promoting and assisting clean water and sanitation projects through Rotary clubs around the world. John published a wonderful book on sustainable water projects.
After perhaps eight to ten years, John announced that he and his wife Kathleen (former Dean of the School of Nursing at UCSF) were moving to Santa Monica to be near some of his children and grandchildren. Soon he joined the Rotary Club of Santa Monica and was working on more Rotary projects. But he still called often - the last one only a few months ago. I did what I always did. I told him what a great project he had and to please talk to Eric who had all the answers. John became the epitome of a great Rotarian and humanitarian, and he will be sorely missed. May his memory be eternal.