Amherst Magazine

Derrik C. Hoitsma '54

Derrik C. Hoitsma '54 died June 28, 2010.
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DERRIK CUTTEN  HOITSMA

     The melanoma that had kept Derrik in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation facilities for more than a year suddenly claimed is life on June 29th in New Haven. Known to all in Amherst days as “Red,” his expansive personality often earned the addition “Big” to the nickname derived from his ruddy hair. He became and remained a central member of our extraordinarily close 1954 group of Psi U’s.

      Remembrances by Dave Esty and Jerry Grant (posted in full on our class website) recall regular connections with Red through the years in which they and others of the group were all making their way through their various successful careers in New York City. They shared luncheons, the annual 1954 New York dinners, and the milestones of each other’s lives. Derrik’s highly successful career on Wall Street took him to important positions at the top investment houses Faulkner, Dawkins and Sullivan and Donaldson, Lufkin and Jeanrette.

     Retiring in 2002 and seeking a fresh perspective, Derrik moved to California and bought a hillside home with a modest vineyard overlooking the Alexander Valley north of Geyserville. In May of 2007, Jerry Grant, Bill Tehan, Jeff Keener, George and Benni Tulloch and Ann and I ventured to his ranch to attend for a festive weekend celebrating Derrik’s marriage to Michele, “Micki,” Linen, her 60th  and his 75th birthday. The rich promise of that day, however, was to be all too brief as the melanoma began its inroads only a year and a half later. Micki’s love and devotion proved to be the only bright spot of the arduous months that followed, She tenaciously fought to get Derrik to the very best physicians and hospitals, kept his spirits up and kept his friends in touch.

     Last fall Micki and Derrik decided they wanted to return to the East Coast, and early this year, with Derrik for the moment strong enough to make they move, hey settled in Salisbury, CT. Soon, however, the melanoma again took its toll on Derrik’s system. Against all odds, he survived an operation to replace diseased heart valves to join Micki on a trip to see her relatives in Philadelphia. They were able to join George Tulloch and Ann and I for brunch in Swarthmore. Red’s indomitable spirit and wry wit were both in good shape, but that was his last expedition.

     Writing in our 30th reunion book, Derrik concluded, “There’ve been some ups and downs, but the trend line looks OK.” For Big Red, the trend line was always up, right to the end. He finished that line in the book, with a typical ironic note, adding “oops!”—and “oops” it finally was. In addition to his beloved wife Micki, Derrik is survived by his brother, Kinmont, six children from his previous marriages, and four grandchildren. A memorial gathering was held in New York on October 4, 2010.

 

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