Donald Justus Derx was welcomed in heaven, on May 28, 2019. Donald passed quietly in his beloved home, on CubaLake, after a year-long battle with cancer. Though heart wrenching for all of those who loved him, we know God answered his prayers as he rejoined his wife of 64 years, Reta, in heaven. To reflect on Don’s life brings us memories of his deep abiding love for all of his family.
After high school, Donald married the love of his life, Reta, and enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served his country for four years. Don’s love of family and desire to follow in his father’s footsteps brought his young family home to Olean, in 1958, to work in his father’s business, Henry H. Hill, Inc. Don dedicated the remainder of his life to building a successful business that has provided a living for many family members and other young men and women throughout the years. He expected excellence but gave more than he demanded. Don was committed to his business in a way not often seen in today’s world. Working in partnership with his son, Tom, Don continued to work five or six days a week until January 2019, when his illness prevented him from getting to the “shop.” Don never took more than three days away from his business in his entire working career – his work was his vacation! Don was committed to service for the growth of his profession as well as his own personal business. He was a man of incredibly high moral standards and integrity that was evident in his relationship with family, friends, customers, employees, and other industry associates. As a member of the New York State Association for Automotive Aftermarket Professionals for over 40 years, Don served as an officer for many years and was president from 1989 through 1991. He was honored with the Hall of Fame Award, in 2005, in recognition of his integrity and service to all.
Don was a man who believed in the importance of hard work and a commitment to excellence in everything he did. Throughout his life, Don was involved in many activities to serve and bring joy for others. He volunteered as a football coach, in Allegany, and also spent several years as a dedicated leader for the Boy Scouts of America. When his children were older, Don started singing with the Olean Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. The opportunity to volunteer with an organization dedicated to “building a better world through singing” brought Don and his whole family decades of enjoyment. His dedication to the Barbershop Society led to the honor of Barbershopper of the Year, in 2006. Don is remembered fondly for his ability to bring song to every party and campfire. He assured everyone that you didn’t have to sing well, but it was important to sing loudly! Don’s life will be honored in loving memory for his ability to bring a smile through song and his good-natured humor.
Don is survived by their children, Diane (Eric) Derx Finch, Thomas (Cathy) Derx, Carol (Bill) Derx Walker, and Mary Derx-Robinson. He was also blessed with loving grandchildren: Sean Finch, Jared (fiancé Kaela) Finch, Elizabeth (Dan) Derx Hager, Matthew (Noelle) Derx, Michelle (James) Walker Damiecki, Heather (Josh) WalkerStrait, Justin (Olivia) Walker, Heather Anne George, Derrick Robinson, and Nicklas Robinson and eleven great grandchildren. He is survived his siblings: Mary Barbara (Gene) Marra, John (Mert) Derx, Kathy (Brad) Beach, Ona Lee (Mel) Hamann, Archie (Robin) Derx, and David Derx.
Don was predeceased by his loving wife, Reta, on February 27, 2019. He was also predeceased by his granddaughter Kristy Danielle Walker, a great grandchild angel in heaven, his sister, Ollivene, and brother-in-law, Gene Irving.
Friends will be received at the Letro-McIntosh-Spink Funeral Home, Inc., 646 E. State Street, Olean on Friday, May 31, 2019 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Bonaventure Parish, on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 10:00 am. Burial will be at St. Bonaventure Cemetery in Allegany. Online condolences may be made at www.LetroMcIntoshSpinkFuneralHome.com.