Vivian Rena (Sor) Droke, 100, died peacefully at her home on May 8, 2022 from complications of dementia.
Vivian was born on April 24, 1922, in Great Falls, Montana, the oldest of four children. Much of his early childhood and schooling was spent on the ranches outside of Great Falls, where his father found work – “a real cowboy”. Life was hard, so over time his mother and children moved back to the growing town of Great Falls, where many relatives lived. Vivian always found part-time jobs to help her. She liked to go to the cinema at five cents and to visit her aunt Florence, who ran a boarding house often visited by famous personalities, such as Bob Still and other former western actors, or the artist Charlie Russell. Vivian became an accomplished furrier/seamstress in a department store in town. Later she brought this trade back to Kingsport, making alterations to fur coats or shawls for the ladies of that area.
In 1942, Vivian accepted a job in the Technical Draftsman – Aircraft Maintenance Department at Great Falls Army Air Force Base. Verlin Droke, a flight engineer in the US Army Air Corps, Air Transport Command, was serving his last three years of service at this air base. He met and married Vivian on April 10, 1947. Upon his honorable discharge in January 1949, they moved to the family farm in Verlin, Tennessee.
Vivian, who had never been far from Montana, found herself living with Verlin’s parents on a working farm trying to learn how to use fat from pinto beans, how to make cookies with lard, white sauce and sweet iced tea – three meals a day. Humidity (a foreign word in Montana) took over; she said the first summer in Tennessee had been 40 days of rain, everything was wet or moldy, and she was good to go. But she was always a hard worker and the family tried to take her in. Many hours of prayer in the “smoking room” out back gave him the faith to finally settle into his Tennessee home.
Vivian was devoted to her children and her family. She was married to Verlin for 72 years. She helped out in the Droke family shoe stores. Store windows have been “dressed up” with seasonal curtains and displays by Vivian. The huge station wagon that Verlin always had to transport the shoes between different stores, was loaded with the family every few years to return to Montana and visit as many of Vivian’s relatives as possible. Great adventures have taken place over the years on these journeys.
The family home was filled with love and care. Viviane took care of everyone. She loved the flowers and plants all over the house – beware of the jungle on the porch. She organized large gatherings of family and friends on vacations and other occasions. Vivian was always willing to help with her children’s projects, from making play costumes to blowing up volcanoes. She loved to read, especially Westerns by Zane Gray. She loved to crochet and do embroidery on pillows and sheets. So much more could be said about this amazing woman, but no words can truly express Vivian’s boundless love for her family.
Vivian was a member of St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Kingsport and also attended Colonial Heights United Methodist Church with her family.
Vivian was predeceased by her parents, Rueben and Frances (Woods) Dors; one brother, Arthur Dors; two sisters, Mary Axtman Brent and Florence “Pat” Hilt, who all lived in Montana.
Vivian is survived by her daughter, Rena Paulette Droke of Kingsport; son, Riky Paul Droke and wife Teresa of Johnson City; sister, Jean Itami and husband Daniel of Scottsdale, AZ; several nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family is grateful to Amedisys and all of the medical providers who have been invaluable in providing excellent care. A special thank you to the caregivers, Sherrie, Lori and Robin.
Family will receive friends on Sunday, May 15, 2022 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Colonial Heights United Methodist Church. The funeral service will follow at 3:00 p.m. with the Reverend Chris Brown officiating. At a later date, Father Michael Cummins of St. Dominic’s Catholic Church will pray at the grave with Vivian’s family.
Burial will follow in the Mont-Liban cemetery, next to the church.
Honorary bearers are Coy Johnson, Joe Johnson, Steve Droke, Bob Droke, Jeff Droke, Richard Rowland, Gary Watson, Roy Adams and Terry Payne.
Contributions to Vivian’s memory may be made at Mount Lebanon Cemetery, c/o Kent Harris, 216 Lebanon Rd., Kingsport, TN 37663.
Please visit www.hamlettdobson.com to leave your condolences online for the family.