On Thursday, April 15, 2021, Andrew LeRoy Papa, uncle to all, passed peacefully from this life in Mesa, Arizona. Uncle Drew was just 10 days shy of his 72nd birthday.
Drew was born on April 25, 1949 to Beatrice Rogers and George Michael Papa in Holbrook, Arizona. Holbrook had the closest hospital to Snowflake, Arizona, the town his family had lived in for generations. He was the middle son in a lineup of five rowdy Papa boys. He spent his early years in Snowflake and later Pinedale where his mother taught school. He was Valedictorian of his 8th grade graduating class of two in Pinedale. The Papa family moved to Chinle on the Navajo Nation during his teen years where he attended and graduated from Chinle High School. He cherished his lifelong friendships and connections made on the reservation. He forever considered himself a Chinle boy.
Drew served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Pacific Northwest Mission. After his mission he studied silversmithing at Navajo Community College in Many Farms and continued to create jewelry throughout his lifetime. He especially loved turquoise, creating with turquoise, wearing turquoise, and loved his years working with his uncle Spence Rogers in the Lone Mountain turquoise mine near Tonopah, Nevada.
Drew lived in many places besides his beloved Snowflake, including: Los Angeles, Soda Springs, Seattle, Mesa, Chicago, and Tijuana.
Drew had many jobs throughout his lifetime. He operated rollers, graders and belly dumps and worked construction for much of his life. But he was a kid at heart who loved to play. His most prized job was that of uncle. He was not only an uncle to his twenty-two nieces and nephews and many more great nieces and nephews, but he uncled countless others who came into his life. We were all his “little buddy.” Many loved to be greeted with his “hey bro” or “how’s it going Holmes.” Many hands suffered the crush of an Uncle Drew handshake and felt protected by his larger than life personality.
Drew loved golfing, fishing, hunting and camping. He loved being outdoors. He loved his country and the beauties of native people and wildlife. He loved getting a Zuzu (pop) and Scratchers at Maverick. He had a unique sense of style which consisted of a lifelong mohawk/mullet, large rocks of turquoise on his strong weathered hands, one pant leg tucked into a flashy boot and one left out, the end of his belt always flapping in the wind. He was not afraid to smell like roses. He loved the deals he would find at thrift stores and would amass quite the collection of unique clothes. He once owned a truck appropriately named Barney that he painted a bright purple with a simple paintbrush.
He was a legend.
Drew was preceded in death by his parents George and Beatrice Papa. Drew is survived by his brothers, George (Debra) Papa, Don (Kathleen) Papa, John (Debbie) Papa, Joe (Mitzi) Papa, many nieces and nephews and Donald Trump.
Funeral services for Drew will be held Friday, April 23 at 3:00 PM with a viewing at 2:00 PM at the Boulder Creek Stake Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at 3025 S Hawes Rd Mesa, AZ 85212. Live streaming of the services will be found at: https://youtu.be/6RGm-OWuZdU
Graveside services will be Saturday, April 24 at 12:00 PM in Snowflake, Arizona at the Mike Ramsay Memorial Cemetery.
Drew didn’t mince words and often had bold ways of letting you know what he thought. Some of his classic one-liners were, “You’d have more luck pole vaulting the moon” or You could make a freight train taka dirt road.” He was not one for saying goodbyes and would never end a phone call with “bye.” He simply ended with an, “okay…” Uncle Drew, till we meet again. Okay…