Born: March 11th, 1982
Passed: June 1st, 2005
What can I say about this young man? Derek passed on from his life on earth to rest peacefully eternal in the heavens on June 1st 2005.
Derek graduated from Western Michigan University’s Aviation Program with a bachelor’s degree.
He also attended Embry-Riddles Aviation Program, which is Americas top aviation school.
Derek obtained his pilot license and instructor certifications.
At the time of Derek’s death he was teaching flying lessons at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek airport and pursuing a career in aviation.
It is hard to put into words and describe one mans life. Derek was a great son, a great brother, a great cousin, a great friend, and the list goes on and on.
If every man, women, and child on earth had to be defined in one word, the word I would pick for Derek is “CONFIDENCE”.
As you all know Derek’s approach at all things in life was with a overwhelming exuberance of confidence.
Even when he had no clue what he was doing there was a bathtub full of confidence overflowing from every pore in this mans body.
I think we can all take a lesson from this mans playbook.
I consider Derek a brother of mine. We shared the bad times, we shared the in-between, we shared the good times, and let me tell you what there was an awful lot of good times!
We spent the most influential times of our life’s as friends walking hand in hand trying to navigate those hostile waters we call life.
I will tell you for a fact I am a better man now from the years I spent with Derek in the past! We all have our own individual memories of Derek that we reflect on from time to time.
Just like an old movie reel that gets replayed in our heads time and time again. We did so much stuff together from working together to traveling together, you name it…. we did it!
For some reason the memories I tend to remember are the simple ones of Derek and I just sitting outside his grandparents house in those old style lawn chairs with the green and white straps woven together in a checker pattern staring out into a beautiful waist high corn field with a light summer haze in the air.
The smell of the fields and the sounds of the birds chirping with pleasure just imbedded in my mind for eternity.
Just sitting there doing nothing talking with his Grandfather Clarence Otter.
The knowledge this man possessed and shared with us could not be found in any book or college campus, this was real life knowledge earned with his blood, sweat, and tears over 80 plus years of hard work and dedication to his family and farm.
There is no wonder why Derek turned out to be such a great guy with such role models as his Grandfather in his life.
I will conclude this by thanking Derek for giving all of us so many great times with him!
All of those smiles and laughter will never be forgotten.
I think his life influenced all of us in one way or another and we must remember he is doing GODS work now, so don’t feel sorry or sad for what has occurred.
We should celebrate the fact that we where all lucky enough to know this man, and remember GOD has the master plan!.
Erik (A.k.A- Cuzzin Gunny)
Derek's Memorial Slide Show Video (Produced by Erik Gunstrom):