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.
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.”