Virginia Jean (Johnson) Derrick

Virginia Derrick, 89, formerly of Peru and more recently of Will Rogers in Saranac Lake, died Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at CVPH in Plattsburgh.

Her last days were filled with the people and things she loved most: music, poetry, stories, and the company of family and friends.

She was born in Chisholm, Minnesota, July 2, 1928, to Albert and Mary (Harrington) Johnson. She was the sixth of seven children, growing up on the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. She graduated at the top of her high school class, excelling in music and dramatic speaking.

Ginny always sought opportunities to learn, grow, and travel. She supported herself to earn degrees in Speech and Language Pathology at the Universities of Minnesota and Illinois. In 1956, she accepted a position with the Department of Defense School System in Munich, Germany where she met her husband of 56 years, Bill Derrick. They were married in 1958 and returned to the U.S. in 1962 to pursue graduate school and teaching opportunities at several U.S. universities. Ginny raised their growing family and took on part-time duties as an adjunct professor and school speech therapist as the family moved from Illinois, to Kent State in Ohio, and then SUNY Albany.

In 1974, Bill and Ginny moved their family to Peru, New York. Ginny taught as an adjunct professor at PSUC and became the first staff speech pathologist at CVPH. There she developed the speech and language pathology program with a focus on stroke and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. She also worked with Clinton County Public Health delivering speech therapy to the homebound and nursing home patients.

Ginny was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She delighted in all things of beauty — flowers, artwork, poetry, music and song. These gifts filled the lives of her children and grandchildren, instilling in them life-long appreciation for the arts.

Virginia shared her musical gifts in the community as a member of the St. Augustine’s Church Choir and the Peru/Keeseville Ecumenical Choir. In retirement, she and Bill lived in a timber-frame house they designed and built on the Calkins Road in Peru, based on homes they had admired in Germany in the 1950s. They also loved to travel, visiting their children and grandchildren who were around the country and overseas on military assignments. After Bill passed away in 2014, Ginny moved to Will Rogers in Saranac Lake where she met wonderful friends and lived life to the fullest for three marvelous years. Ever the performer, on her deathbed she was reciting poetry and singing songs that had brought her joy for eight decades.

Ginny was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Bill Derrick, on Aug. 27, 2014.

She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Kathy Derrick of Peru, New York and their four children: Ryan, Kaitlin, William, and Henry; her daughter and son-in-law Mary Elizabeth and Michael Peabody of Keene and their three children: Hannah, Maeve, and Asa; and her son and daughter-in-law, Tim and Veronica Derrick of Mill Valley, California and their two children: Charlotte and Aurora.

Calling hours will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 16, at the Hamilton Funeral Home, 294 Mannix Road, Peru. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 17, at St. Patrick’s Church, Patent Road, Peru, with longtime family friend, the Rev. Philip T. Allen, celebrating. A reception will follow at 312 Calkins Road, Peru. Entombment will be held later in the year in St. Augustine’s Parish Columbarium.

In lieu of flowers, we welcome donations in Ginny’s memory to the Peru Free Library.

Arrangements are in the care of the Hamilton Funeral Home, 294 Mannix Road, Peru, 643-9055.

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