John Mark Derby, 64, was loving, lovable, and one-of-a-kind.
Born in Houston, Texas, in 1951, John spent his childhood reading everything he could get his hands on (including the dictionary); pitching for the church league baseball team; and studying the World Atlas, with which he achieved his quest to find the tiniest town listed (Beanhole, Alaska, pop. 2).
Beloved by his mother, Louise Johnson Derby, and his father, Richard E. Derby Sr., John was the youngest (and arguably most adorable) of four siblings, including Richard E. Derby Jr., Margaret Ann Derby, and Mary Janice Derby. He routinely made everyone laugh.
After graduating from UT Austin in just 3 years, John had a whirlwind marriage, followed by a whirlwind divorce, followed by a whirlwind MBA from The American School of International Management in Glendale, Arizona.
He moved to New York City with a cowboy accent and wild curls, and in 1977 he married Leslie Vanderleur. After John made the leap to financial services management at Citicorp, they moved to Port Washington, Long Island. They had one daughter, Elizabeth Hope Derby, in 1984.
In 1986, John brought his love of animals, model cars, and the Yankees to Rumson, NJ, where he lived with Leslie until 1991. After their divorce, he remained a loving figure for Elizabeth’s half-sister, Patricia Janet McCarron.
In 1998, on a Seastreak ferry ride into the city, John met and fell in love with Nancy Asmann, whom he married in 2000. They spent the next 15 years in Monmouth Beach, NJ, laughing about everything and doting on their photogenic cats.
Recruited to Smith Barney, Dean Witter, and Bank of America, John finished his career in 2006 as a CFO for Morgan Stanley. During retirement, he managed investments and sharpened his Jeopardy skills. After Hurricane Sandy flooded their home, he and Nancy moved to Middletown in 2015.
John was a golf and racquetball champ, a geography trivia whiz, and a deeply loving, sensitive father. He gave Elizabeth many gifts, including above-average height, carte blanche CD purchases, and her love of spicy food, Dave Barry, and the Naked Gun movies.
In addition to attending 4000+ hours of dance recitals and reading bedtime stories ad infinitum, John expressed his unconditional love for his daughter by supporting her passion for travel and writing professionally. During her college term abroad in Sydney, he agreed to pay for a bungee jumping excursion on the condition that she “Strap a camera to your forehead, then send me a picture.”
That’s the kind of dad, friend, and person he was.
John passed away in his sleep from unexpected heart failure on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his daughter, Elizabeth; his sister Ann; and loving family and friends around the countr y.
John F. Pfleger Funeral Home, Middletown, was in charge of arrangements.
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