Longtime Port Arthur businessman Joseph P. Drago Sr. dies.; tremendous impact remembered

Published 12:30 am Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Local businessman Joseph P. Drago Sr., whose career was in the family owned Drago Supply Company, has died at 84.

The company, founded by his father in 1931, grew under Joseph’s leadership and became a leading business in Port Arthur and later had branches in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas until its sale in 2008, according to his obituary information.

Stuart Salter, longtime businessman and Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce past chairman, said Drago’s impact on the community has been too much to be measured.

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“The Drago family, and their business, and local culture can not be overstated. Area industry knew that with Joe Drago, they’d get a fair deal, the right product, delivered on time, and as agreed,” Salter said. “His word was his bond throughout his highly successful career.”

Randy Sonnier, chairman of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, said the Drago Company was one of the top supply companies that sold items to refineries.

“Drago was a frontrunner in the business, and I had the good fortune to work for Drago’s for many years,” Sonnier said.

Joseph Drago Sr. was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years Brenda.

Sue Parsley and her husband David were longtime friends of the couple and enjoyed trips together with them and other couples to Cayman.

“They didn’t go to Europe, they went to Cayman,” Sue Parsley said.

The group of couples spent time at the beach, enjoying cookouts and camaraderie.

“He was the leader of the pack,” she said.

Drago enjoyed gardening, jitterbug dancing and barbecue.

Parsley told of how Drago enjoyed music and had music in his car from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

“He loved and knew his music,” she said.

Drago was also a family man with four children and 12 grandchildren, one of which was a contestant on American Idol, Fritz Hager.

Salter said Drago and Brenda brought a sense of occasion to all their community endeavors and if either one was involved, it was certain to be a successful event.

“His generosity also cannot be measured, because he rarely told (anyone). For Mr. Drago, those were personal matters you don’t talk about. You do it because you can. He did much for others without accolades,” Salter said. “He was also a damn good storyteller. He enjoyed a good joke and the company of good friends. A man’s man in the classic sense, he will be truly missed by our fair city.”

Drago was born and raised in Port Arthur and was a graduate of Bishop Byrne High School. He went on to Tulane University and after graduating went on to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard.

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

A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. James Catholic Church with burial at Greenlawn Memorial Park.

Donations in his honor may be made to St. James Catholic Church, 3617 Gulfway Drive, Port Arthur, Texas 77642.