Former city manager, assembly member Drathman, 71, dies

Former Homer City Manager and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Ronald Drathman, 71, died Feb. 27 of natural causes at South Peninsula Hospital. A memorial service was held on March 5 at the Homer Elks Lodge.

Drathman served as Homer City Manager from June 1999 to January 2003 and on the borough assembly for two three-year terms from 1993-1999, serving two years as board president. While serving as city manager he helped secure funding for an expansion of the Homer Port and Harbor, including building the Pioneer Dock. He also spearheaded annexation of about 4.5-square-miles outside city limits into the city of Homer.

“He was definitely a good advocate for Homer, and a good representative for Homer both on the assembly and as a city manager,” said Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre. “And he’ll be missed.”

Drathman settled in Alaska in 1973 after law school, first working as a public defender. He later worked in private practice with attorney Phillip Weidner as partners in Drathman and Weidner, with offices in Anchorage and Homer.

“Ron Drathman was a fine person, a lawyer and a friend of the people,” Weidner said. “He helped many people in his life, loved his family and his community, and made great contributions to the world at large. He had an exceptional sense of irony and humor which all of those who met him benefitted from and enjoyed.”

“Ron’s professional life was active, interesting and very productive,” Homer City Manager Walt Wrede said in a press release. “His contributions to this community were substantial throughout his life.”

Born Aug. 13, 1942, in Cleveland, Ohio, Drathman moved to Phoenix, Ariz., at age 13. At 17, he dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy. After the Navy he took classes at Arizona State University, alternately taking classes and working in Alaska. He flew for Merrill Flight Service and worked on the Alaska Railroad. After getting his undergraduate degree, he received a jurist doctorate from Stetson University College of Law. He married Leslie Coppins in 1966, and they had a son, Zachary Drathman, in 1971.

In 1973 he returned to Alaska and worked as a state public defender in Anchorage. He later worked in private practice. In 1982 he married Susan Bashaw, and in 1984 they moved to Homer. They had two children together, Alexandra and Max.

In addition to his public service, Drathman was active in his children’s sports, including Little League, football, hockey and soccer. He was awarded a lifetime membership in the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Kenai Aerie 3525.

School Board member Tim Navarre served on the assembly with Drathman, both elected in the same year.

“Ron certainly knew how to get things done,” Tim Navarre said.

Of accomplishments, Navarre mentioned Drathman helping to get the Pioneer Dock and an expansion of South Peninsula Hospital built. He also pushed construction of West Homer Elementary School, campaigning for central peninsula voters to support a bond proposition for the school. 

“He brought some of the kids from softball, camped out in front of the grocery stores and handed out information,” Navarre said. “He was always trying to make things better for his end of the community.”

When Drathman was sick, his family credited Tim Navarre with helping him out, they said in his obituary. Navarre said ever since he met Drathman, he always considered him a friend and said it was his pleasure to be there when he needed a friend.

“That’s a character trait of a person, too. His friends will be there for him,” Navarre said. “He was a great friend, and I’m going to miss him dearly.”

Drathman is survived by Susan Drathman; his son and daughter-in-law, Zachary and Kelly Drathman; his son, Max Drathman; his daughter and son-in-law, Alex and George McGuan; his grandsons Leif, Parker, and Quinn Drathman; his brother and sister-in-law, David and Beth Drathman; his sister and brother-in law, Kathy and Chris Knoth; many nieces, great nieces and nephews, and his dear friend, Tim Navarre.

The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, people make a charitable donation to Little League of Homer or another project close to their hearts.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.