Cecelia Drake came into this world on August 8th, 1946, a bundle of joy to her parents, Bob and Agnes Lovett. She had the pleasure of living in six different states before she was 18 months old as her father (Bob Lovett) pursued a career in sales. They eventually ended up in The New Orleans Garden District where Cecelia attended school until third grade. Along the journey, siblings Nancy, Rob, and twins John and Joe were added to the family.
While working (and partying) in New Orleans, her dad received what can only be labeled as a “Call from God” to enter the ministry. He entered seminary at the Southern Baptist seminary in New Orleans. He quickly got an assignment to a “missions” church in Flatwood, La. and then Pineville Baptist Church in Pineville, La. where Cecelia graduated from high school. While serving these churches, her father would comment that his (monthly) liquor bill used to be more than his monthly salary as a pastor.
Cecelia attended Louisiana College in Marksville La. until her sophomore year when the family moved to Grandview, Washington where her dad became pastor of the Grandview Baptist Church. She moved with the family and immediately enrolled in Central Washington State College (now a university). At Central, because of credits and grades, she was placed as a junior, graduating from Central in 1968. Immediately upon graduation, she entered the teacher certification program and pursued a career as an elementary teacher. She had told her mother at a very early age that if she couldn’t be an angel, she wanted to be a teacher.
What a teacher she became! After a short stint in a Catholic private school, she went to work in the Granger School District as an elementary teacher. Within a few short years, she became the head teacher for the elementary school and instituted the first all-day kindergarten program in the region. Marriage to Bruce Dickinson and birth of son Brent in 1975 were a natural course of action only to be followed by the tragic death of Bruce when Brent was 18 months old. This precipitated a move to Hermiston, Oregon to be close to family. Her father (Bob Lovett) had moved several years earlier to pastor Grace Baptist Church. While in Hermiston, her dad felt another “Call of God” and in 1972 started Interfaith Christian Center (now known as Hermiston Christian Center). After meeting in different buildings in the area, they settled as a congregation the Carpenter’s Hall (the Simmons Agency building) at the intersection of Diagonal and East Main Street. Cecelia, true to herself, immersed herself in the activities of the church and raising Brent, but harbored a burning desire to continue her teaching career. With encouragement from her father and much council from Jane Baker, the three of them started Interfaith Christian School in 1978 in the basement of the Carpenter’s Hall (Simmons Bldg.). Bob Lovett, Pastor/Shepherd; Jane Baker, Principal; Cecelia, Head Teacher. In the late summer of 1980, Interfaith Christian Center moved all of its activities, including the school, to their newly constructed (but unfinished) building at 1825 West Highland Ave. They expanded the school membership to include high school students. Cecelia continued as head teacher for the elementary with her primary focus on K-1, her first love.
While teaching at the new location, she met and fell in love with a member of the newly expanded staff, 2/3 grade teacher and worship leader, Richard Drake (Rick). They were married in May of 1981. The couple moved into their first home on a dirt road just south of the new church/school building. As the road was yet unnamed, they were asked what they should call the road. Both Cecelia and Rick almost without hesitation said Alleluia Lane. Because of their love for children, they almost immediately began to take in foster children, eventually having 30 children call 1820 Alleluia Lane home for a while. Cecelia continued teaching at the school but eventually in 1986, the couple moved to Vallejo, California. Cecelia, true to her love and calling, became Sunday School Coordinator for Hilltop Christian Center in Vallejo a church with a membership of well over 600. They moved back to Hermiston in 1988. Cecelia continued teaching as a substitute teacher in area schools and in 1999 the couple moved to Heppner, Oregon. After a few years as a substitute teacher in area schools, Cecelia began working as a reading specialist at Riverside High School in Boardman, Oregon until a stroke in 2009 forced her into early retirement. She continued to be active in school, accompanying Rick (who was teaching music) and working as a volunteer aid until continuing diminishing health forced her to stay home.
Cecelia was preceded in death by her parents, Bob and Agnes Lovett, sister Nancy Stimson (Gene), brother Joe, grandson Brock Palmer, and Son Brent Dickinson. She is survived by her husband of nearly 40 years Rick, great-grandsons Blake and Brody, grandson Bryce, daughter Janet and foster son Jeremiah; brothers Rob and John (Lovett), and foster brother Johnny Hover.
Cecelia, you will be missed by all who knew you well. Your beautiful voice, your twinkling emerald green eyes, your smile and most of all, your heart of compassion. We will see you in Glory.
A graveside service will be held Saturday, August 1, 2020 at 11 a.m. at Heppner Masonic Cemetery. Please be considerate of others during the covid-era if you plan on attending the service.
Memorial contributions may be made to Vange John Memorial Hospice, 645 W. Orchard Ave, Ste. 300, Hermiston, OR 97838 or to the Heppner Methodist Church Memorial Fund, PO Box 733, Heppner, OR 97836.
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