A moment in history
By the time Walter Drasche began working for Steinway & Sons, his grandfather and three uncles had already been employed there. The only non-Drasche uncle (Fred Speyrer) had become the Factory Superintendent and had given him the choice of a college education or a job. People were still reeling from The Great Depression. Jobs were hard to come by. John Drasche (Walter's father) had been out of work for some time. "I'll take the job," said Walter. And so, Walter Drasche started a 49-year career working at the Steinway factory. Unfortunately, that career was interrupted in 1941 when he served as an Army Corporal, fighting mostly in the Philippine Islands and New Guinea; far, far from his family, his home and the piano factory.
Upon his successful return, he became a strong advocate for the forming Union, at which point the current President of the company (Henry Steinway) took notice and convinced Walter to come over to the company side and become a foreman. He maintained that position in the Action Department (where they manufactured the moving parts of the piano) for a good number of years. He later became foreman of the Grand Finishing Department (where they wrapped up working details on the grand pianos), at which point I had the pleasure of being one of his employees when I was learning how to tune pianos.
He was tough, but fair; understanding but unreasonable when it came to quality work and company rules. In the 1970s, he joined the Research and Development Department and had to wear a tie; a little out of place for him, yet he wore it well. While working there with Bill Steinway (Henry's son) he received a US Patent for developing a treatment for cloth that involves the movement of the piano action parts. I still have a signed book to my father from Henry Steinway. It reads: "For Walter Drasche, One of the men who made Steinway great."