Brenda Drago, pillar of community, dies

Published 8:37 pm Thursday, May 4, 2017

Brenda Nell Hill Drago, long known for her love of the city, her work with various organizations including the Christus St. Mary Foundation and Children’s Miracle Network, and the family’s business, has died.

She was 76.

Drago died on Wednesday and she is the wife of Joseph P. Drago Sr., who is a member of one of Port Arthur’s pioneering families in the industrial distribution business. Their company, Drago Supply Company was founded in 1931.

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She served as a lifelong children’s advocate on many PTAs and her passion to help sick children and children with disabilities continued for 26 years as a volunteer and later as director of the Christus St. Mary Foundation and fundraiser for CMN.

One of her proudest accomplishments was raising over $1 million for the first hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber in Southeast Texas at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, according to her obituary.

Angie Lane, a Port Arthur native, credits Drago with being instrumental in her special needs sons life.

“Kameron is our miracle baby,” Lane said of her son who is now a senior in high school. Kameron’s prognosis was dire — doctors told Lane that he would never walk, talk or have a sense of humor. She was told only to bring her son home and love him. “She (Drago) worked tirelessly to help our special needs kiddos (in the area). She has us on several CMN fundraisers and because of it all, CMN and Brenda Drago helped our baby get a creepster crawler, which taught him how to crawl, a communication device to help him speak and hyperbaric oxygen therapy in New Orleans, just to name a few (therapies). I don’t know if Kameron would be where he is today without God’s help and the help of Brenda and CMN. Our family will be forever grateful and she will be missed.”

Wayne Moore, vice-president of clinical operations for Christus Southeast Texas Health System, called Drago a very special lady and one he felt honored to have affiliated with St. Mary.

“During her years at St. Mary she impacted healthcare for children in a very positive way by keeping the Children’s Miracle Network alive at St. Mary,” Moore said. “Her work with CMN, the local business community and St. Mary provided care to countless numbers of children with various disabilities. Some of these children grew up to lead great lives all because Brenda cared enough. The resources that Brenda provided St. Mary through CMN fundraisers also made it possible for St. Mary to provide state of the art medical services to countless children. Her legacy will forever be tied to the children of South Jefferson County. She will be missed.”

Drago was also served as a commissioner of Pleasure Island, as a member of St. James Catholic Church and on the Service League of Port Arthur, the Texas Artists Museum Society and the Port Arthur Historical Society.

Her love of and lifelong service to the city of Port Arthur was affirmed when she was named the Quota Club’s Woman of the Year in 1985 and the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Athena Award in 2004.

She is survived by her husband of 51 years, Joseph Paul Drago, Sr., four children and many other family members.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday with a Rosary to be recited at 7 p.m. at Levingston Funeral Home in Groves.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be 2 p.m. Monday at St. James Catholic Church, in Port Arthur, with burial at Greenlawn Memorial Park and reception to follow.