WBOC-TV has announced funeral arrangements for their owner Tom Draper, who was killed in an accident while riding his bicycle last week in Milford.
According to WBOC-TV, visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15. Both services will be held at Crossroad Church, 20684 State Forest Road, Georgetown, DE. Burial will be held privately. Memorial donations may be made to the Draper Holdings Charitable Foundation, One The Square, Milton, DE 19968, which will benefit non-profit organizations that Draper was particularly passionate about.
According to the Delaware State Police Department, the incident occurred around 7:35 a.m., Thursday, September 7, when Thomas H. Draper, 76, of Milford, was bicycling eastbound on Slaughter Beach Road in the area of Wells Road. Draper was struck by a 2013 Ford F-150 pickup truck, driven by Shawn E. Armstrong, 37, of Lewes, who was also traveling eastbound on Slaughter Beach Road. Armstrong stopped immediately after the collision and called 911. He was uninjured in the crash.
Shortly after the collision, Draper was transported to Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital and later airlifted to Baltimore Shock Trauma in critical condition, where he later passed away.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the WBOC family. He was an amazing businessman, a trendsetter here on Delmarva, but I think more importantly than all of those things in my mind is that he was a family man, he loved his family, and he was patriot, he loved this country and he loved Delmarva," Councilman Arlett said. "He was very passionate about doing things to serve this area, to serve this community, and to serve this country, and those are just the fond memories that I will cherish with him and many others."
“There are no words to express the profound grief the WBOC family feels at this time,” said Craig Jahelka, President, Draper Media. “Tom was a broadcast pioneer, who said often those of us at WBOC have a moral obligation to serve the people of Delmarva. Our thoughts and prayers are now are with his family.”
Jahelka said Draper had just celebrated his 50th anniversary in broadcasting on Sunday, September 3rd. His broadcasting career began with the purchase of his first radio station WTHD, which bore his initials as its call letters, in 1967.
Five years later Draper signed on WAFL-FM in Milford, Delaware. Draper's broadcasting career would take a big turn in the late 1970s when WBOC's then-owner, the A.S. Abel Company - which also owned the Sun papers in Baltimore - put the station up for sale. But Draper was outbid twice.Draper and his group of investors were asked to make a third bid for WBOC-TV and its two radio stations. After the deal was done, Draper sold off the two radio stations to focus on TV.
Draper would go on to buy and sell other TV stations in Kansas and Texas. But WBOC always remained his first love.“Tom wanted to serve the people of Delmarva with high quality news and information,” said Jahelka. “He and his family continually poured money back into the station. And that passion was rewarded as WBOC-TV grew to become one of the most dominant local stations in the nation. He was one of the few remaining single, independent owners nationwide who truly cared about his viewers and community and invested in WBOC. It’s why WBOC is the smallest market station in the country to fly a news gathering helicopter, operate three bureaus, produce both local news and a daily local talk show as well as a local outdoors show, and broadcast from a multi-million dollar NewsPlex.”
Using digital technology Draper expanded his CBS affiliate to include FOX and Antenna TV on sub-channels. He launched a separate digital division, and in 2015 got back to his roots with the purchase of a 50,000 watt radio station, WBOC-FM. Draper was poised to announce the launch of Delmarva’s newest television station, Telemundo Delmarva.
General Manager of Delaware 105.9 and Delmarva Broadcasting Company's Milford branch, Bill Vernon, issued a statement following the announcement of Draper's passing. "All of us at Delmarva Broadcasting Milford send our condolences to the Draper family and everyone at WBOC. Mr. Draper was a great person who constantly gave back to his community. The media on Delmarva would not be what it currently is without Mr. Draper. Our hearts are heavy with his passing and he will be greatly missed.”
Delaware 105.9's Dan Gaffney remembered Draper during his show at Jimmy's Grille on Friday morning, and issued the following statement. “Tom Draper was not only a great broadcaster, but a wonder contributor to our community in many ways. I admire what he has accomplished in his life, and he will never be forgotten”
Draper was a pioneer and legend who revolutionized the landscape of broadcasting news in Delmarva. WBOC-TV remembers him -- click here to read more.