Neil Abbott Drawbridge of Vashon Island, WA, formerly of Holden, MA, passed away at home on December 6, 2019, after a ten-month battle with cancer. He leaves behind a stepson, Zachary Brown of California, formerly of Vashon Island, his sister-in-law Cynthia Payne, his sister-in-law Elaine Drawbridge, four nephews, Yaran Drawbridge, Nathan Drawbridge, Tanner Drawbridge, and Peter Drawbridge, two nieces, Dara Drawbridge and Teagan Drawbridge-Quealy as well as an assembly of friends, both on Vashon and in Holden with whom he was bonded and loved and who regarded him in turn as fondly as those to whom he was bonded by blood. His two brothers, James Drawbridge Jr. and Stephen Drawbridge pre-deceased him.
Neil was born in Holden, MA, son of James N, Sr. and Dorothy Staples Drawbridge. He graduated from Wachusett Regional High School in 1972 and was accepted at UMASS Amherst with a scholarship for Ice Hockey. During his youth, Neil excelled in athletics, playing Holden Little League baseball, where his quick reflexes and speed made him a formidable outfielder. He grew up following his two brothers to the frozen ponds and indoor rinks. Once he tied his skates, he was a standout ice hockey player in the Worcester, MA, and Wachusett Youth Hockey Leagues. Again, his speed and strength led to his being a four-year varsity hockey player at Wachusett Regional High School where he was captain during his senior year. His high school coach, Coach Bouvier, described him as the “Bobby Orr of Central MA.” He was named a Worcester Telegram and Gazette All-Star player two times and was inducted into the Wachusett Athletic Hall of Fame.
Neil set out for Vashon Island in 1974 where he made his home for 45 years. He started working at Kimco and quickly began meeting people and making friends. His openness and humor were magnetic and his circle of friends on Vashon grew. Neil was able to buy a beautiful piece of land in Dockton where he lived with his son Zack. His many construction skills enabled him to develop his land and build a home until, tragically, his home was destroyed by fire. For Neil, the greatest loss in the fire was his five kittens.
Neil’s resilience enabled him to get back on his feet. He continued to be a valued member of the community as a septic inspector working with island realtors and the King County Department of Health.
Everyone who knew Neil loved his humor and honesty. He will be sorely missed by so many of us who knew him. We will have an opportunity to share our stories of his life at a Remembrance Memorial Service on January 4th at 1:00 PM at the Vashon Sportsmen’s Club. Please come and join us as we remember our dear friend, Neil Drawbridge.
His family takes solace in the image of Neil, on that perfect frosty winter morning, on a perfect sheet of ice engaging in an exceptionally rousing and rowdy game of pick-up hockey.
A celebration of Neil’s life will be held at Val’s Restaurant in Holden, MA on January 4, 12:00 PM. Please join us there. Memorial Donations may be made in Neil’s name to Vashon Island Pet Protectors, VIPP, P.O. Box 245, Vashon Island, WA 98070