To coin the cliché, it was a dark and stormy night in October of 1988, when I heard pounding on my front door on Melrose Avenue. I always was grumpy, and still am, when anyone interferes with my nightly repose in front of the TV and was cursing as I went to the door. I opened the door to a raging wind and rain being driven right into my face; And beheld an extremely tall, extremely thin vision of Ichabod Crane soaked to the skin in a light raincoat. He told me his name was Don Drury and that he was running for city council in Ward 3. There was something so sincere and earnest in his demeanour that I immediately said, “if you would come out on a night like this, you’ve got my vote.” And I did. Don was successful in that election and soon became a regular at the Hamilton press Club, a spa where, it must be confessed, some of us tarried too frequently and too long. Very quickly I came to understand that Don was much more than a councillor; that he was a significant player in the local Liberal scene. Don, like many of his generation was a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Liberal—a breed now in their 60’s or beyond, but then baby boomers—active members of the community. People like Don were enthusiastic volunteers in any federal or provincial campaign that came along. Don was a staunch supporter of Sheila Copps who inherited the John Munro mantle in the 1984 electoral rout which had reduced the federal liberals to a few dozen seats. In later years he stuck with Copps in the local Liberal schism with Tony Valeri over the Hamilton-East-Stoney Creek nomination.
As a councillor Don was conscientious—always ready to visit a constituent personally to try to solve a problem. He was not a frequent debater on council but when he spoke it was usually to the point and mercifully brief at a time when council meeting often went on for many hours, and occasionally would end with a skirmish in the parking lot afterwards. He was re-elected twice. Although Don had often said he was not a career politician, he surprised his friends somewhat when he announced he would not seek office in the 1997 election. I often felt that Don had made the decision too hastily, and that he soon regretted not being in office. Afterwards when you would encounter Don, it seemed he was a bit of a fish out of water, and in 2000 when the wards reverted to a single councillor from the two that existed when Don was on council, the door was shut, at least in Ward 3 where Bernie Morelli was solidly entrenched. He attempted a comeback in ward 2 in a by-election in 2004 losing to Bob Bratina.
Still active in Liberal party politics, Don was always visible as a volunteer and advisor both federally and provincially during what had become bleak days for Liberals after the 2006 federal election and the 2011 provincial election. Don had not had an easy upbringing, but he always showed an outward optimism and good cheer. He was steadfastly loyal to his friends and he sincerely believed in our democratic system—demonstrating his lifetime commitment to good citizenship. Don Drury had planned to retire later this year.