Community has fond memories of Blanket Bob
ROBERT Draper, known to most as Blanket Bob, might have been the poorest person in Grafton, but there are not too many people who don't have a story about him.
Mr Draper, who died on Monday aged 69, after a short illness, loved his freedom. And for him that freedom was an open sky above him and no walls to surround him.
For more than 20 years he had camped out on Grafton's streets, trusting the community to look after him.
Grafton identity Bill Dougherty came into close contact with Bob about five years ago when illness put Bob in Grafton Base Hospital and then Livingstone House for a short time.
"When he was in the hospital and later the nursing home, he was off the grog and he was able to talk about his early days," Mr Dougherty said.
"He told me he served in Malaysia in the campaign there in the 1960s.
"When he was in Livingstone House, I said to him, 'Bob, this is paradise'.
"But he said, 'on no. I haven't got my freedom'."
Mr Dougherty said many people in Grafton would remember giving Bob $2 for a "cup of coffee".
"Everyone knew it was to buy him a glass of port at the pub," he said.
Mr Dougherty joked Mr Draper's patronage had not brought good luck.
"He used to frequent Weileys Hotel and the PO Hotel in his early days and both of them are gone," he said.
Grafton funeral director Jim Summers said Mr Draper's funeral service on Friday would celebrate his eccentric lifestyle.
"After the service people will be invited to go back to the Clocktower for a glass of port," he said.
Mr Summers said he had been aware Mr Draper had been ill for a while.
"He was in hospital for a bit, but before then he was still going up to the Clocktower every day for a beer," he said.
UPDATED FUNERAL DETAILS
The Grafton Community are invited to attend Robert's funeral service, to be held at Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Duke Street, Grafton, on FRIDAY (31 October, 2014), commencing at 2pm.
The funeral will then proceed to the Clarence Lawn Cemetery. Please wear something blue in memory of Robert. Following the service, please meet at the Clocktower Hotel for a port.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Swags for the Homeless in honour of Robert may be left at the service.