Carl Draper wasn’t a millionaire, but he was worth all that and more to Alton Memorial Hospital staff and physicians.
Carl, 82, died Jan. 30 at his Wood River home. To some, it might be surprising that he didn’t die while volunteering at AMH. Carl didn’t spend every waking hour there -- it just seemed like it. At last spring’s volunteer appreciation luncheon, Carl was honored for surpassing 40,000 volunteer hours in his 22 years at AMH.
Based on the average hourly wage at AMH through the years, Carl might have been worth somewhere close to $1 million to the hospital. He finished with 40,585 hours. Not surprisingly, the final hours were put in the day before he passed away.
“Carl was buried in his AMH windbreaker, wearing his 40,000-hour pin we just gave him at that luncheon,” said Kathleen Turner, volunteer coordinator at AMH. “Carl also helped me every month with collecting the volunteers’ time cards and adding up everyone’s hours, then putting out new cards for everyone. AMH was his home away from home and we will all miss him very much.”
“Carl was a very dependable volunteer,” said Irene McLaughlin, who retired as volunteer coordinator in 2016 but still volunteers at AMH. “When he wasn’t here you would worry something was wrong. Several years ago he had surgery. He showed up to volunteer before he was released from the doctor. I had to explain to him that I needed his release from his doctor. Needless to say, he was not happy to have to leave and go home.”
Born March 12, 1937, in Granite City, Carl was the son of William H. and Emma L. (Fausz) Draper. He graduated from East Alton-Wood River High School and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from McKendree University in Lebanon in 1960. He had served as a trustee at McKendree since 1998. Carl was employed in the Mapping department for the Department of Defense in St. Louis for more than 35 years before retiring in 1998.
“The best thing about volunteering is getting the chance to work with all of the rest of these volunteers,” Carl said at last year’s volunteer luncheon. “They are the best.
“I answered the call to volunteer after Chaplain Jo Greenwood sent out a request for volunteers through all the area churches, including mine (First United Methodist of East Alton). I had some reservations about volunteering and discussed this with Chaplain Jo.”
The now-retired chaplain must have been very convincing, much to the benefit of AMH for the next 20 years. Carl started volunteering in Chaplain Jo’s office, then moved to the ER, where he stocked supplies and helped remake beds and fill the blanket warmer. He also helped fill the complimentary soup sacks in Surgery.
“I enjoy being a small part of the hospital, getting to know several of the doctors and having the satisfaction of helping the staff,” Carl once said. “I have friends in all areas of the hospital. I’m also involved with the group at my church who make care bears for patients. I am just trying to be of help, and hopefully not getting in the way.”
Carl didn’t need to worry about that. No one at AMH ever considered him “being in the way.”
“Forty thousand hours,” Irene said. “There will never be another Carl Draper!”
Pictured above: Carl Draper fills the blanket warmer in the Alton Memorial Hospital Emergency Room in a 2018 photo.