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Henry Countians have an All-American in their midst and most don’t know it.
David Drury, who was a Deaf School All-American at the Kentucky School for the Deaf in 1981-82 lives with his wife Betty, also a KSD graduate, in the southeastern corner of the county.
The couple has lived on Fawn Lane, a small gravel road off U.S. 421 for nearly ten years. They have a dachshund, Penny that responds to some sign language.
Drury was an All-American in football and basketball in 1981 and 1982. He played center and forward on the basketball team, and tight end, defensive end and linebacker in football.
Drury played on the only KSD basketball team to win a district tournament game. “My best memory in sports in high school was when we upset a good Garrard County team in the first round of the district tournament in 1981. KSD never won in district before 1981 or since 1981,” he said.
He also remembers having a big game against the Eminence Warriors. “My senior year we beat Eminence 32-14 and I had three catches for 119 yards,” he said. “I had a 72-yard pass reception. I caught a short pass and even though they were a very fast team, I outran them to the end zone. We beat them three of the four years I was in high school.”
Drury started kindergarten at KSD in 1968 and graduated from the school in 1982. He always loved sports and played from the earliest possible time. He played in midget leagues starting in second grade in various sports and played all the way through until graduating.
After graduating, Drury was offered a football scholarship by Union College but turned it down. “I wanted to play basketball not football,” he said. “Football hurts,” he added with a smile.
Drury, an all around sports enthusiast, was disappointed as a youngster when KSD dropped their baseball program, denying him the chance to play a third high school sport. After high school he fulfilled his diamond dreams by playing on a travelling softball team that played in deaf tournaments around the country. The team was based in Cincinnati and played in places like Buffalo N.Y., Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Madison, Wisconsin.
Drury’s best memory from his softball days was playing in a big tournament in Chicago in 1988. “We were in the final four of the tournament and I went 19-24 through six games but we lost to Chicago in the final four. They were a big, physical team that blasted nine home runs against us.
I really miss the old time when I was young. I was a tough guy. Now I’ve lost 35 pounds.”
Drury and his wife communicate with those who don’t sign by writing everything on paper. Betty and David don’t lip-read, which sometimes makes it difficult to communicate with those living around them.
Their good friend, Charles LeCompte, came to know them because of a now humorous incident when the Drurys had only lived here a short time.
“One day David went hunting and got lost,” he said. “We live about a mile away. All of the sudden here comes this man in camouflage carrying a rifle into our back yard. My wife Helen and I were working in the back yard splitting wood. It about scared her to death. David quickly realized this and laid down his gun and then went about trying to let us know he couldn’t speak. We eventually figured it out and realized he had been out in the woods for several hours and gave him a couple of bottles of water and helped him find his way home. We have been friends ever since and now we feel like they are like a part of our family.”
David was born deaf and Betty became deaf when she fell out of a swing at 18 months of age. They have no living relatives nearby.
“My dad was a Korean War Veteran,” Drury said. “It was a bad war. Maybe that is what caused me to be deaf. But I don’t ever complain about being deaf.”
LeCompte is in awe of what the Drurys are able to do on their own. “David (who worked hanging drywall and cutting and hanging tobacco for 25 years) is disabled because of a back injury and Betty has breast cancer,” Lecompte said. “They amaze me how they are able to survive. They are a hidden talent in this county.”
LeCompte would like to see a support group started in the county for deaf people so that the Drurys and other hearing impaired residents could get together. “I just think it would be good if somebody could organize something for them,” he said.
Despite the lack of local support for deaf people the Drurys enjoy living in a rural area where David can satisfy his sporting desires through hunting and fishing which Henry County provides in abundance. “We like it here…plenty of forest,” David Drury said. “I raised quail and pheasants from 2006 to 2009 until Murray Armstrong died.”
“Mr. Armstrong owned a bird business and we raised birds to sell to him,” Betty Drury said. “David broke his leg and Mr. Armstrong died and we gave the business up. We loved to work with the quails and pheasants. We were amazed to see how the birds mated. Then we gathered the eggs and put them in the incubator and then watched them hatch and move and grow feathers. Then we moved them to the birdhouse. Once they matured we sold them.”