This morning I learned the very sad news that Eugene Driker passed away. Eugene was a proud two-time alumnus of Wayne State, a former chair of our Board of Governors and Foundation Board, a generous donor, and a tireless ambassador for our university. Eugene was equally proud of his — and our — home city, where he was enormously influential in helping the city overcome challenges that threatened its stability, helping set it on a path to a better future. His interests and commitments were wide, and included the arts, his Jewish culture and the Yiddish language. You can read a full tribute to him from the Division of Development and Alumni Affairs.
More than all of this, Eugene was a friend — to me and to many. Long after his term on the board was over, he was always available, never hesitating to provide counsel and support. Nor was he a stranger on campus, where he continued to conduct his “Hidden Jewel Tour” and was a steadfast presence at many university functions. He was fond of telling Wayne State stories, especially how his father allowed him to attend any university he wished, so long as he could get there on the Dexter bus. His best story, though, was how at Wayne State he received not only a great education but met the woman who would become his wife, Elaine, herself an alumna of Wayne State and also an engaged ambassador for the university.
The Yiddish term for people like Eugene is macher. He would likely brush off such a moniker, but in his humble way, he epitomized the term with his moxie, his work ethic, and his uncanny ability to find creative solutions to extraordinarily difficult and complex problems. We will miss Eugene. But we are grateful for the many years he devoted to Wayne State, and we honor him and his memory, first by extending our deepest condolences to Elaine and the Driker family. May his memory be a blessing.
M. Roy Wilson