A Quiet Man Who Made A Powerful Impact
by David Shannon
Several things about the funeral service of Elmer Derryberry communicated the great impact this man made on so many. After two days of extended visitation the chapel was full for a 9:00 a.m. service. A few extra chairs were set up in the rear of the building. The number of flowers was greater than usual and the attendees were a mix of church members, family, past co-workers, and neighbors from the community. As DeWayne Griffin and I stood by the casket at the end of the service, a procession walked by to pay their final respects. I have experienced this many times in my life, but I don’t remember a time when so many had tears in their eyes and came to offer a final touch or kiss to the deceased�men and women alike. The burial at Middle-Tennessee Veterans Cemetery was a 40 minute drive away. There were more in attendance than the small chapel had chairs. About half as many stood behind the seated and watched an impressive presentation of the flag. The number who attended, sent flowers, shed tears, and drove to the burial caused me to consider this simple truth. It doesn�t matter what personality God gives, if one will live a righteous life they have a powerful impact on many people.
Elmer Derryberry was a quiet man. He didn�t lead in a public way and avoided credit or recognition at every turn, but his life powerfully impacted many. He was born in Maury County as the son of sharecroppers. In his teen years he moved in with an aunt, attending high school in Mt. Juliet. He graduated from DuPont. He joined the Army and later enlisted in the Air Force. Between these two enlistments he met and married Alma. This sweet couple shared almost 49 years together. Once returning home to Mt. Juliet, Elmer eventually operated his own heating and cooling business. He developed a reputation of reliability and integrity. He was a perfectionist in many ways. His generosity was spoken of by many as they told story after story of his helping them and refusing payment. He was a faithful friend, as one said, �a friend for life.� He loved his family. Steve and Scott, his sons, speak highly of the man who molded their lives. Steve said he taught us how to love, to respect, and to know God. Steve continued, �He took me to church and sometimes I didn�t want to go, but I did. Now I look back and cherish that!� Scott described the work ethic his father instilled in them and the importance of putting others first. Alma treasures their faithful love and the life they shared. Elmer�s greatest accomplishment wasn�t the house or the business he built. His greatest accomplishment was the life he built, which served so many in such a beautiful, humble fashion. He constructed a life submissive to God, supportive of family, and a servant to all. Nothing in the scriptures indicates that Christ will need help constructing heaven, but if He does, a humble, skilled servant is in His midst! We will miss our brother, family member, and friend.