Nancy Drapkin says the lesson she learned from her husband’s death is “Live in the present. Don’t put things off. Appreciate your friends. And enjoy every day.”
Recently she gave MIT $20,000 to establish a scholarship in honor of her late husband, Paul E. Drapkin, an electrical engineer, whose life she longs to celebrate.
“Paul was a great believer in education and felt MIT had everything to do with his success,” his wife says. “It seemed natural to create an undergraduate scholarship in his name.”
The son of a grocer, Paul Drapkin was born in Waltham, Mass. in 1932. After high school, he enlisted in the Air Force, then applied to MIT. In 1957, he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and then headed west to Stanford University, where he earned a master’s in 1960.
Drapkin, who held six patents, was a pioneer in the design of digital systems and communication-related integrated circuits. Included in his 40-year career were stints at several electronics engineering companies, including Ampex and Lockheed Martin Corporation. In 1979, he launched his own consulting business, SAMcom Associates, which he named after his children, Stephen, Anne, and Michael.
A devoted father, he cared about young people and also cared about their getting a good education. “It would be an honor to him to know he is helping students in electrical engineering,” his wife says. “He thought that the most important gift you could give anyone was a chance to be educated.”
Now that her husband is gone, Nancy Drapkin often passes her days working in the garden. “Gardening is so life-affirming,” she says, adding that she recently planted 500 daffodils and tulips, flowers her husband loved. As they return each year, she says, it will remind her that his spirit lives on.