Gerald Francis Derry Sr


 

 

 



Gerald Francis Derry Sr.

Rev. GERALD FRANCIS DERRY Sr. Among the last of the Derrys to be born in the 19th century, he came into this world 25 May, 1899 in Galesburg, Illinois, and died 21 December 1962 in Alamogordo, New Mexico. He was a son of JAMES FRANKLIN & ALICE MAE (REXROAT) DERRY

Though I was quite young when he died, I can remember well the stories that he told me. Once he said, "...I remember stepping off an old wooden sidewalk, in a small town in Illinois, and preached my first sermon..."
He said that was about 1914 or 1915.


Chicago Star

In the 20's, he was a small town marshal, I believe it was in Missouri. It was said that he had amassed more than a million dollars in the Stock Market during that time. After the market crash of '29, and a short time during the 30's, he was a Chicago cop. He knew the infamous, Al Capone. The story is, old Al asked Dad to guard his mothers' house. Dad refused the offer by Mr. Capone. After being on the Chicago Police force, he began his own private detective agency. During WW-II, the U.S. State Department asked him to to go under cover in France. For whatever reasons, the job never materialized.

It was also during the 40's, that he married my mother IRMA MAE DOMM.  She was born 31 March 1916 in Seneca, Illinios. Remembering back a bit, there was a story she used to tell me about how they met. It went something like this....

"I think I was only about 8 or 9 years old when I first met your father. It was at a little mom and pop corner store, and my mother had given me a dime to buy some penny candy. Of course, I wanted much more than I had money for. While standing at the counter to pay for the candy, a man walked into the store to buy something and noticed I didn't have enough money to pay for all the candy....he kindly gave me the money to pay for it, and bought an ice cream cone for both of us to boot."
"I still had my dime." she said, smiling, "That's the last I saw of him, until one day about 15 years later, while working as a waitress in a cafe in Galesburg, in walked this same man, and sat at my table. Of course, I recognized him straight away. But, he didn't recognize me, I had grown up. But I told him this story, and he remembered. It wasn't long, and before we knew it, we fell in love. And the rest", she said, "is history."
I've always loved that story. Dad was 17 years older than mom. So, he must have been about 25 or 26 years old when they met the first time.

As my brothers and I were growing up, our family traveled across the "Bible Belt", from Illinois down through Missouri, Arkansas, parts of Louisiana, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, California and New Mexico. Some states, more than once.
Along the way, dad would stop at Tent Revivals and churches, and more often than not, the Pastor of that church or revival, would invite him to give a sermon.

On the way to California in 1959, we passed through Alamogordo, New Mexico. We only stayed a year or so in California, and then moved back to New Mexico. There, he continued his Ministry. Started and operated the Otero County Rescue Mission. Through his mission, he helped hundreds of people, and spend thousands of dollars doing it. Once, I remember a family on their way out to California. Thier car had broken down in Alamogordo. I don't remember what it cost, but dad paid to have it repaired, provided the man and his family with a place to stay for a couple days, made sure they had enough to eat, and then gave the man enough money to make it all the way to California... and I suspect, a little extra.

By 1962, we had a piece of land on the edge of town, where he was building a church, the Samaritan Bibleway. Ground had been broken and the block laid for the foundation. When winter came, there wasn't much to do. We were living in town, when on the 21st of December, dad had died of a heart attack.

During his life, he was a farmer, professional boxer, a mule skinner, a high altitude long distance runner, a lawman, a preacher, and a good father.

D. Doc Derry

Photo Taken in 1958 at my Aunt Ethel Rexroat Derry Schweitzberger's house in Denver, Colorado.

From left:
Gerald F.-II, Irma M., Gerald F. Sr.
(I Think dad had a touch of the flu that week.)

 

Gerald F. Derry Sr. & Gerald F. Derry II. This was the last photo taken of Gerald F. Derry Sr. before he died later that year in 1962.

Three Sons

James William (L), and Gerald F.-II (R)
Taken summer of 1962, the year dad died.

D. Doc Derry. Taken about 35 years ago.

And one Daughter by a previous marriage, Shirley.
She is married and extant.

 

 

 

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