On March 21st, 2017 drew, went for a ride with a group of friends from St. George, Utah. He was riding his Honda Goldwing. His fellow riders were on Harley Davidsons. They were on state road 167, which is the road north of Lake Mead, Nevada. Drew and a friend went off the road at mile marker 31. The reason is unclear, the accident is still under investigation. Drew died on impact, his friend Scott Purdon died three hours later. Drew loved the freedom of riding his motorcycle.
Drew leaves behind a tremendous legacy, he was the inspiration and driving force behind adopt an African clinic. In 2005 drew went to Uganda looking for service opportunities. He visited the dental school at Makerere University. It was in very bad shape. Drew had a dream, his dream was to build a new modern dental school and to do it in 2 ½ years. An unheard of feat in Uganda. He circled the date 2 ½ years in the future. Many miracles happened along the journey. The school was opened on that date. This began Drew’s east African adventures. Drew was asked to go to Rwanda and build a dental school for them. The Kigali health institute had two working chairs. Drew took up the challenge. The Rwanda dental school, Kigali, Rwanda is the most modern and efficient dental school in east Africa. Drew’s last trip in Jan/Feb 2017 was to Bujumbura, Burundi. Another dental school program was planned.
Drew’s biggest passion was education. He started a community health program in Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. He trained public health dental officers and dentists to visit elementary schools. They were to present an oral health presentation, screen the students and perform “art technique” on some students. He felt the only way to stop the dental problems in east Africa was through education. This has been an ongoing program since august 2008. Drew also organized courses in periodontal health. Dental hygienist from North America went to east Africa to teach “non-surgical periodontal treatment”. They would teach the dentists and dental therapists in Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. They provided instruction, instruments, and sterilization techniques. They also proved hands on teaching. Numerous classes have been taught. Many, many friendships have been created and kept. Drew would always tell potential volunteers that they would experience “a miracle a day”. Drew loved people and especially the people in east Africa and all the volunteers that went with him.
Drew’s passing has been hard on all that knew him. He was an exceptional person. His legacy will live on. The Mulago dental school in Kampala, Uganda will be named after him. His work and programs will continue. He mentored many African dentists and therapists. All felt great affection for him.
He mentored me, Tom Sorensen (6+ trips including his last in Burundi) and Christa Mather, on the Burundi trip. We and all the other people involved with drew will continue on in east Africa.