Amherst Magazine
Derek Hepworth

DEREK HEPWORTH (1935-2005)

Derek Hepworth arrived at Amherst September 1953. He played freshman football, joined AD, married Elaine   the summer after his junior year, lived off campus, took a year off from college and returned as a proud member of the Class of ’58. Subsequently, he was also ’58 Reunion chairman, class president, associate class  agent, representative to the Alumni Council, and director of ’58 Planned Giving.

Derek’s career was in institutional money management. At Peregrine Capital Management in Minneapolis, he  had the title of vice president/director of marketing. As of 2001, he had worked at John Hancock for more  than 30 years, retiring as senior vice president of Independence Investment Associates.

Elaine Hepworth continues the story: “When Derek retired in 2001, he wondered how he, a workaholic, would  adjust to a more bucolic life. He did seem to enjoy retirement as he structured each day into the same  quadrants that had guided his workday. He arose each day at the same time to walk our daughter’s Lab. The  rest of his day was devoted to touching base with colleagues by e-mail or phone, playing golf and enjoying his family – especially his grandchildren.

“Derek was involved in various committees and participated regularly in the events of the BSAS (Boston  Securities Analysts Society). He shared his intensive financial background as a member of the board of the  French Library in Boston, helped organize his high school class reunions, and was also instrumental in fund  raising, most notably for St. John’s Prep.

“He laughingly mentioned that we were on a trip every month. This was possibly an exaggeration, but we did  feel some inner urgency to explore new places. More than one person has commented on how perspicacious  we were to obey our impulses.”

They were on a trip to Prague, Elaine continues, when Derek began to have periods of weakness. “That was our  last trip together. When we landed in Boston, we headed for Massachusetts General Hospital. After that, life  was never the same. This was two-and-a-half years after his retirement.”

“The Hepworths have a bit of purple blood running in their veins.

Derek died in April 2005 after a long battle with leukemia. He was 69. He left his wife, Elaine, their five children (David ’80, Dennis, Derek ’85, Douglas, and Suzanne Panico) and 12 grandchildren.

At the memorial service, David said, “My dad played to win. On the day he was to receive the results of the final leukemia test, his main concern was finishing and winning the cribbage game with my sister, Suzanne. From raising five children born in seven years before he was 27 to attaining an MBA and CFA in his 40s, my dad was up to any challenge.

“He treated his leukemia the same way. Weeks after being told he would be gone soon, he would be up with his  physical therapists working as hard as he did when he was captain of the Swampscott football team. He had an  indominable spirit. My dad treated everyone with the same warm, unstudied dignity. I have never met anyone like him.”

Larry Lansinger, an old friend who wrote Derek’s In Memory piece for Amherst Magazine, remembered, “An apple tree was the centerpiece of our backyard, circa 1985. A major storm toppled our beloved tree so that the roots were upright gazing at the sky. Derek told us to plant the tree, which I thought was absurd but decided to give it a try. The tree bloomed for many years before taken by another storm. I now think of the small replacement as a memorial to Derek.”

Elaine recalls that “One of Derek’s joys was the pride he felt as a graduate of Amherst. When we moved to Minneapolis, the first people to welcome us were his “buddies” from Amherst. Each year, when Amherst played Williams, he would be like a cat on a hot tin roof until he knew the score. If it was not an Amherst win, he would be dejected and discuss, at length, his opinion about the loss.

Two of our sons graduated from Amherst, which made Derek very proud. Our granddaughter, Nicole Panico, has just been accepted to the Fairest College Class of 2011. As our son David wrote in his recommendation for her, “The Hepworths have a bit of purple blood running in their veins.” Derek would have been thrilled to know Nicole will be attending Amherst. How wonderful that the acceptance letter was written on Derek’s birthday!”

Derek Graham Hepworth died April 17, 2005.

Hepworth2

This picture was taken a few months after Derek came home in June 2004. Elaine says, “Remarkably enough...prior to this picture, he was considered to be a candidate for "Bridge to Hospice." We, including Derek, worked very hard, and he had a ‘respite’ for about five months, during which we were able to go to functions and socialize. As you can see, he never really lost his robust appearance…. I think the men of Amherst are fighters.”

Derek Graham Hepworth '58

The organist played Finlandia as Derek’s wife, Elaine, their five children (David ’80, Dennis, Derek ’85, Douglas and Suzanne Panico), most or all of his twelve grandchildren, many other family members and friends, Tom Gorman, Ginger and I left the May 13 Memorial Service at St. John the Evangelist Church, Swampscott, MA. I thought to myself “perfect, Derek must have been part Scandinavian.” “Not a drop”, I later was told by a family member. Still, the triumphant melody was an excellent tribute to Derek.

Derek died on April 17 after a long battle with leukemia. The previous fall, he called me to say that he had moved to a different room for the duration of his recovery. The tone of his voice was same old Derek – upbeat. At the memorial service, David said, “My dad played to win. On the day he was to receive the results of the final leukemia test, his main concern was finishing and winning the cribbage game with my sister, Suzanne. From raising five children born in seven years before he was 27 to attaining an MBA and CFA in his forties, my dad was up to any challenge. He treated his leukemia the same way. Weeks after being told he would be gone soon, he would be up with his physical therapists working as hard as he did when he was captain of the Swampscott football team. He had an indomitable spirit. My dad treated everyone with the same, warm, unstudied dignity. I have never met anyone like him.”

Before continuing about Derek, I want to mention Elaine. The mother of five children, she is a gem who doesn’t look as though she had any children. My profound hope is that she will join us at reunions.
Derek writes that his father was attractive to Williams, Yale and Amherst. He found the students at Amherst to be engaging and driven, but also balanced in terms of their ability to have a good time and develop strong relationships with others. Jim Connors ’57 and Bob King ’57 report that Derek arrived in September of 1953 and roomed with Dick Leavitt in Morrow. They were known as the Odd Couple, with Derek in the role of Felix. He played freshman football, joined A. D., married Elaine the summer after his junior year, lived off campus, took a year off from college and returned as a proud member of the class of ’58. We first became friends when working on the 25th reunion. Subsequent to 1983, Derek served as Reunion Chairman, Class President, Associate Class Agent, Representative to the Alumni Council, Director of ’58 Planned Giving and on the ‘58 Nominating Committee along with Mike Abodeely, Bill Krupman and me.

Derek’s career was in institutional money management. At Peregrine Capital Management in Minneapolis, he had the title of vp/dir of marketing. When he retired in 2001, he had worked at John Hancock for over thirty years with distinguished titles related to marketing. He called on me in Rhode Island at Textron Inc. and the State Treasurers Office, which necessitated several lengthy lunches.
Stories about Derek abound:

Tom Gorman – He had the soft drink concession during football games. The weather was hot when we played Springfield, and Derek quickly sold out of his ice cold soft drinks. With considerable time left in the game, he began to sell the ice until told to cease and desist by President Cole.

Jim Connors – Our first game freshman year was against Andover, and the score was 19 -19. Center Bob King had a cramp, so Derek was called upon to center the ball to me on a punt play from our own 20. He snapped the ball over my head into the end zone. The final score was Andover 21 – Amherst19. That night he disappeared from the campus. You do not have to be a psychoanalyst to conclude that Derek had a hard time accepting poor performance, even his own.

David Hepworth – (1) My mom and dad . . . first danced together at a Jr. High dance here in Swampscott. (2) The guides, my dad and I started casting for king salmon. They weren’t biting. The mosquitoes were. Several hours later, at 5:30 AM the guides and I were huddled in the tent while dad was out by the river casting. Even the guides were impressed.

Fred Greenman – He wanted to do business with my company. One day, I was out of the office in series of meetings. Upon return, I had five phone messages – three of them from Derek.

Robin Lansinger’84/Stephanie Abodeely’84 – after working as bartenders at their 25th, the two of us voted on favorite parents. Mr. and Mrs. Hepworth were the winners, even though Mr. Hepworth insisted on changing the amount of vermouth we poured to start every dry martini. The word “cool’ comes to mind.

Larry Lansinger – (1) We were running out of beer on the Friday night of our 25th, and needed to contact our supplier. A self important classmate had been in the phone booth for about 30 minutes. Derek forcibly removed him. (2) An apple tree was the centerpiece of our back yard. Circa 1985, a major storm toppled our beloved tree so that the roots were upright gazing at the sky. Derek told us to plant the tree, which I thought was absurd but decided to give it a try. The tree bloomed for many years before taken by another storm. I now think of the small replacement as a memorial to Derek.

I began this Remembrance with a musical reference. I finish the article by citing Ode to Joy. Beethoven would have loved Derek Hepworth’s indomitable spirit.

Larry Lansinger ‘58

 

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