Building Legacies: Lee Drain
Jan. 11, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins
The following is part of a Today@Sam series highlighting the individuals who have SHSU buildings dedicated to them on campus. Special thanks to Barbara Kievit-Mason and University Archives for their assistance.
The Lee Drain Building, a four-story building constructed from 1984-85, was originally dubbed the General Purpose Classroom Building before being renamed in 1990 for a prestigious Bearkat who sought to better the education system at its highest level.
Lee Drain was born in McKinney, Texas on April 18, 1925, to Denver Lee and Mary Mae Drain. He established his dedication to serving others early and often in his life and even devoted nearly three years to the United State Air Force after graduating SHSU, where he rose to the rank of captain.
Drain distinguished himself throughout his life in military, educational and banking pursuits. While he had many moments to choose from, he called the dedication of the Lee Drain Building on Aug. 18, 1990, one of the highlights.
“This is a great moment in my life and I am grateful to you for having made it possible,” Drain said of the honor.
Drain’s journey in higher education began at SHSU, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1950. He served as president of the Student Council during his senior year and was listed in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.
The following blurb was written in the university’s 1949-50 yearbook:
“Under the direction of President Lee Drain, the Student Council has enjoyed a most successful year. Among their more notable achievements was the painting pact, which was signed between Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin College in August…”
That same year, he graduated with distinction from the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University (SMU). In 1953, he received a Master of Science degree from East Texas State University (modern day Texas A&M University-Commerce).
He also served as president of SHSU’s Ex-Student Association. He was named a Distinguished Alumni by SHSU and East Texas State in 1983.
Drain’s professional career included over 30 years in the banking industry, where he worked his way up the ranks. His many positions with the Republic Bank Corporation, later NationsBank, included assistant cashier, assistant vice president, vice president, assistant secretary of the board of directors, senior vice president and corporate secretary. In 1988, he was named a consultant to NCNB-Texas after 46 years of service to the industry.
In 1971, Drain was appointed to the Texas State University System Board of Regents by former Gov. Preston Smith. In his 18 years on the board, Drain missed just two meetings: one for a relative’s funeral and another for his wedding day, when he married Lynett Craddock in 1974.
“I wanted to go to the meeting the day I got married, but my wife put her foot down,” Drain told the Courier-Gazette newspaper in McKinney in May of 1990.
The Courier-Gazette story was released for the announcement to rename the General Purpose Classroom Building in Drain’s honor after he had left the board. He was reappointed to the board twice during his tenure, in 1977 by Gov. Dolph Briscoe and again in 1983 by Gov. Mark White. He was chairman of the board from 1978-81.
Once the board made the decision to honor Drain with the building dedication, they released the following statement explaining why, which ran in the Houstonian in June of 1990:
“…for countless contributions to the Texas State University System, and to the state of Texas, as well as for his faithful and dedicated service to education, and for the exceptional leadership and public service he has shown of his fellow man.”
In that same Houstonian article, Drain stated the following on the university that now houses a building with his name on it:
“My emotions for Sam Houston run very deep. That school has given me a lot more than I’ve been able to give it.”
Drain also often engaged in various civic affairs, mainly in the Dallas area. While too exhaustive to list, his contributions in all fields truly highlight SHSU’s motto: “The measure of a Life is its Service.”
Drain passed away on Feb. 7, 2019 at the age of 93. He is buried at Ridgeview Memorial Park in Allen.
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