Long before he became vice president of Berman’s Motor Express, Ed Derrick worked alongside his father at a fruit stand in Binghamton.
He learned the value of hard work and integrity from the job, and it was qualities that shaped Ed’s life, first as an academic and athletic standout in high school, then as a young employee fresh out of high school, and finally as a well-respected pioneer the branch.
Self-made in his profession, Ed believed that there are no short cuts to success. He was a merit of the community, say his loved ones, both for his diligence and for his willingness to help and support the people around him.
“There are many people out there,” said his childhood friend George Hays, “who have many reasons to thank Ed Derrick.”
J. Edward Derrick, 88, of Windsor, died on May 4th, according to his obituary.
Early Obstacles in Wartime America
He was born on October 2, 1930, the youngest of Francis and Imelda Derrick’s five children.
Imelda suffered a brain haemorrhage and died less than two years later, leaving Ed’s father to raise him and his older siblings Cyril, Agnes, Anna and Fran in their home on Gerard Avenue in Binghamton.
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They had their share of challenges as they grew up through the Great Depression and its aftershocks in the 1930s and 1940s, moving straight into America’s wartime. Ed’s father, Francis, was a self-made man and worked hard to support his family.
He was an example of work ethic for his children. As for their behavior, Ed would credit the nuns on St. Patrick’s School for “keeping him straight and in a tight spot,” said his son Jerry Derrick.
Ed met his lifelong friend George Hays at St. Patrick’s. Now 90, George said his friend Eddie had been the same considerate, generous person in her adult years as he was when George turned 16 and in need of shelter.
The Derricks took him in.
“A very extraordinary person”
“He gave me a home when I needed it most, a place to hang my hat and all the love and warmth that comes with being part of a family,” said George. “They made me part of their family, I’ve always appreciated that.”
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He also kept memories of Ed’s humor and ingenuity no matter how dire the situation was.
George’s car died shortly before the Canadian border on a trip to Niagara Falls with a group of friends. They had brought two cars with them, so Ed bought a rope and tied it to the disabled 1939 Ford to tow it all the way home to Binghamton.
What started out as a 15 meter long tether was greatly reduced by the time it entered the city, but the group and car got home safely.
“He and I had a lot of fun,” said George.
After graduating from high school – Ed was one of the top students in his class – Ed took a truck loading job and then worked as a truck driver for George at Fowler and Williams.
Working with Ed “was a charm,” said George, although he believes his friend is better suited to administrative tasks than driving. Ed felt the same way back then.
He switched jobs, cut his salary and joined Berman’s Motor Express as a dispatcher. There he would work in “all facets of the trucking industry,” said Jerry, including positions as council clerk and salesman.
A role model with role model
As a young man, Ed met and married Eleanor “Elly” Dodd of Windsor. Yours was a love story of seven decades and seven children. When the house was full, Ken, Jerry, Lori, Paul, Kathy, Steve, and Lisa never knew what they would be called day-to-day, but their home was “a great foundation,” said Jerry.
Ed led his family by example every day, working overtime and doing whatever needed to be done to provide for them.
In the days of strict federal freight forwarding regulations and route-owned companies, tariff handlers were “the heart of a freight forwarder,” said George. In his early working days, Ed had to juggle dozens of local manufacturing companies like IBM, EJ, and Ansco and do complicated calculations to determine their respective selling expenses, and he was good at it.
“He had a wonderful brain,” said George. “He was very, very smart.”
Ed would eventually be named vice president of the company. He was an active member of the Middle Atlantic Rate Bureau, which established the classification and tariff structure for the Northeast Corridor. Later, when deregulation began, he took on responsibility for soliciting new areas of service, a cumbersome task that freight forwarding companies normally hand over to their lawyers.
“Dad was a real pioneer in this endeavor,” said Jerry, “and has set the stage for other careers.”
In 1980, Ed was named Man of the Year by the Triple Cities Traffic Club.
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Lance Hill, who was Ed’s assistant for many years, said Ed was known for his dedication to the job.
“He had a tremendous work ethic,” Lance said. “He was extremely fair in everything he did and his integrity was unparalleled.”
‘He would move heaven and earth’ to help
When Ed was told he had to work 40 hours, he often stayed 50 or 60, George said.
Sympathetic and straightforward – “He would tell it as it was,” said Lance. – Ed brought in a number of big customers, largely based on his reputation for delivering on promises.
When the local US Army Girl Scouts needed biscuits for their annual sale, Ed did not hand over responsibility to anyone else at the company. Punctuality was key, and he stayed close to make sure all scouts had the supplies they needed.
“He was just a good, honest person who took care of the people around him,” Lance said. “If he told you he was going to do something, it would be done.
Realizing it or not, Ed’s dedication made him a teacher to his peers. They mimicked his work ethic and lived off his positive attitude.
It was similar to the dynamics of the derrick at home.
“Our father didn’t ‘preach’ us, he set an example,” said Jerry. “So living your life, treating others with respect, working hard (and) being dedicated made your family what we are today and prepared us well for life’s hurdles.”
Two rules applied in the Derrick House: “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all” and “Two mistakes make no right.”
Ed didn’t clap or speak badly of others, his family said. His laughter and good humor were contagious, and his love and care reached well beyond the walls of their family home.
“If anyone I ever knew needed something very bad, they could ask Ed and he would move heaven and earth to make sure he got it,” said George.
Fostering a deep sense of generosity to be shared with the entire community, he demonstrated “what is true friendship,” said George.
“Ed Derrick was a very special person,” he added. “Warm, considerate, kind, full of empathy for the people. He was an honor for the community.”
In A Life Lived, we honor the lives of those who recently passed away in our communities. If you’d like your loved one to be introduced, email [email protected]. Follow Katie Sullivan Borrelli on Twitter @ByKatieBorrelli. Support our journalism and become a digital subscriber today. Click here for our special offers.