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