James A. ‘Earl’ Drayton was one of nine Charleston firefighters killed June 18‚ 2007‚ in a fire at the Sofa Super Store. A 32-year veteran firefighter‚ Earl was the most experienced of the Charleston Nine and was well known to generations of Charleston firefighters. Sometimes called ‘Squirrel‚’ because it rhymed with his name‚ he was assigned to Station #19 in West Ashley. He only wanted to fight fire and loved to help people in any way he could.Following graduation from C.A. Brown High School‚ Earl served eight years in the Marine Corps.
Known as ‘Cool Earl‚’ he had a quiet‚ soft-spoken confidence and was known as a sharp dresser who kept his black Chrysler in immaculate condition. He had a habit of jangling loose change in his pocket when he talked. Earl was very patient. His interests included cooking‚ crabbing‚ vacationing on cruise ships‚ fixing things‚ working on cars‚ listening to James Brown‚ dancing‚ and being around children. He was a stagehand for local theatre groups‚ painting scenes and building sets for countless performances.
Earl is survived by his wife‚ three children‚ five stepchildren‚ his mother‚ siblings‚ and extended family. He loved being home with his family. He believed in supporting and giving his wife the best. He was a good father.
Earl was a man of integrity.