John S. Derby, 70, of Constantia, NY, joined the angels in Heaven on
March 1, 2023, after a brief fight with Leukemia. Mr. Derby spent his last
day on Earth with his five children and wife gathered around him, laughing
at silly stories, tattling on each other, and sharing the long list of people he
would meet again in Heaven. The day was everything he would have loved
and expected from this crew.
John was born in Syracuse, NY, on July 4, 1952, to Stanley A. Derby and
Mildred I. (Leonard) Derby. Later in life, John was blessed to gain a loving,
kind, and funny stepmother, Sheila (Warner) Derby. On October 13, 1973,
John married Charlotte L. Pflug. After Charlotte passed away in 1988, John
met and married Donna J. (Guernsey) Darby on July 8, 2000.
John and Charlotte’s marriage had many blessings, including three children.
John was an active and well-respected volunteer in the community as a
Cub Scout leader and coach for the North Shore Little League. Both he and
his wife Charlotte touched the lives of many families during this time in his
life. In the mid-eighties, John and Charlotte purchased their own slice of
Heaven on Earth, a chunk of land measuring a little over 4 acres where they
followed a dream of raising their children “deep in the boondocks”! John
and his family loved camping (in a tent) at Beaver Point Campgrounds for
many summers. They avidly supported the racecar “OV1” driven by John’s
brother Glenn and the “Iron Bull Outlaw Wrecking Crew” operated by brother
Jeff at Brewerton and Fulton Speedway. John brought his wife and family
to Maryland annually, where vacation was full of fishing, crabbing, great
food, laughter, and love of Charlotte’s brother Ray’s family. In September of
1988, John’s wife Charlotte passed away after a long battle with cancer.
John was steadfast in his care for Charlotte as she lived out her last days.
John met and married Donna a few years later and had two children. John
was often found in his giant garden with Donna as they harvested
vegetables for the winter months. He was a great cook and loved creating
new recipes, often cooking enough to feed an army. John and Donna
provided many needy animals with a warm home and full bellies. He was
always an animal lover, but his favorite pet Meeko held a special place in
his heart. Undoubtedly, she was waiting for him (actually, his lap) in
Heaven. He was an avid Dale Earnhardt fan and cried when he passed after
a crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. As most fans did, John began to follow
Dale Jr and was delighted to travel with his children, Ashley and Travis, to
Poconos and Watkins Glenn Speedway to catch Dale Jr in a NASCAR race.
A true favorite of John, Donna, and the kids was the trips to their dear
friends Mike and Debbie’s camp in Croghan, NY. It was such a special place
that John and Donna decided to marry on top of the giant rocks settled in
the West Branch of the Oswegoatchi River. John loved to fish here and
didn’t leave without purchasing Croagan bologna for home. John and
Donna were a very devoted couple and dedicated to caring for one another.
Throughout John’s life, he was dedicated to his job and enjoyed many
hobbies and clubs. He was a dedicated and proud Brewerton Fire
Department volunteer member as a young man. For over 18 years, John
worked as a brake specialist at Pat’s Brake Service in East Syracuse. He
loved to share stories about the giant motor homes he fixed, always
describing what his motor home would look when he got one. With great
pride, John became self-employed in the early 1990s, opening North Shore
Brake and Auto in Constantia, NY.
In addition to his parents, John is pre-deceased by his first wife, Charlotte,
and a brother, Glenn S. Derby. Surviving are three children from John and
Charlotte’s marriage; John S. (Carrie) Derby of Constantia, NY, Tonyajo L.
(Thomas) Wiegand of Oswego, NY, and Stanley A. (Katie) Derby of
Auburndale, FL, as well as seven grandchildren; (John) Broden and
Charlotte; (Tonyajo) Charlise, Shelby and Cali; and (Stanley) Maddie and
In addition, John is survived by his second wife, Donna of Constantia, and
their children, Ashley M. Derby of Binghamton, NY, and Travis J. Derby of
Constantia, NY, and a granddaughter (Ashley) Adrianna. Surviving siblings
include a brother, Jeffrey A. (Laura) Derby of Florida; a half-brother, Peter
Prall and his former wife, Gay Erickson, both of Alaska; and three
step-sisters, Sheila M. (Henry) Auslander of Williamstown, NY, Mary Jean
Warner of Syracuse, NY and Patti (James Bruce) Warner of Fulton, NY; and
many nieces and nephews living from Alaska to Florida, Tennessee to
Maryland to New York.
Services are for family only. John’s children and wife, Donna, would like to
extend gratitude to all those who have touched his life and the healthcare
providers who helped him throughout his illness. Those who wish to
remember John in a special way may make donations in his honor to the
American Red Cross.
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