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100+ BIRTHDAYS

Alexandra Cook Draper celebrated her 105th birthday July 25, 2007.

Born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., to Alfred and Carmenta (Burnison) Cook in 1902, she graduated from St. Luke's Hospital nursing program in New York and moved to Ohio, where she helped fight a typhoid epidemic.

She returned to Niagara Falls to work at DeGraff Memorial Hospital. She later met Edward Draper, and they were married in 1940.

In October 1941 she gave birth to her daughter, Carrie (Draper) Meister. She separated from Edward in 1951 and moved with Carrie to St. Petersburg to live with her mother, a retired doctor.

Alexandra Draper was hired by the state of Florida and was sent to Collier County to open a clinic, where she served cypress loggers and their families.

She also introduced the idea of a well-baby clinic. She educated the families about tuberculosis, parasites and venereal disease. By 1954, she was back in St. Petersburg, working at the Mirror Lake Health Department and Tyrone Middle School.

After her retirement, she spent 11 months traveling across the world. She visited the North and South Poles but never made it to Russia or China. There is one trip to the Himalayas, which stands out most for her, though.

After traveling on yaks for five or six months with several men who spoke little English, she worked hard to communicate with her companions only to discover toward the end of their journey that they had understood her all along and were enjoying her difficulty with the language.

Draper has been a member of the League of Women Voters, Friends of Gulfport Library, Pasadena Garden Club, Gulfport Elementary student reading program, Central Christian Church and the Share Food Program. She has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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