Bruce James Derry arrived in this world on February 9, 1948 to Leroy and Helen Derry in Norfolk, Virginia. He took his journey on January 14, 2016 at the age of 67 years.
Bruce’s father was an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy who worked his way through the ranks during WWII to become a Lieutenant Commander. When Bruce was a child the family travelled extensively in Europe. Bruce was taught old-school navigation by his father, and could still step outside any evening and identify all the constellations and stars by name.
Bruce kept a picture of his father’s flagship, “USS Saratoga,” in a prominent place at home. Bruce respected and loved his Dad dearly and often said he’d have been a better man had his father just lived a little longer.
After being stationed in New York, Maryland, Connecticut and California, the family was ordered to Bangor, Wash., where Bruce’s Dad retired. Bruce graduated in 1966 from Central Kitsap High School, where he was an excellent baseball and football player.
A few months after graduation, he joined the U.S. Army. He was sent to the Defense Language Institute in the Presidio of Monterey California, where he graduated with a Master’s degree in the Chinese Mandarin Language. He was then stationed in Thailand near the Laos and Cambodia borders. Bruce often reminisced about his life in Thailand when these cold Okanogan winters arrived, and always said how easier it was to live in a warm climate. He wondered whatever happened to his water buffalo, “Rooney.” Bruce said his only regret in life was that he didn’t remain in Thailand.
Bruce had many occupations; he hoed sugar beets in southern California, worked the pear sheds in Oregon, pulled green chain in Port Ludlow, was a bouncer at the Mountain Time tavern, was a rigger on Harbor Island and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, handyman and landscaper, built recreational campers in Oroville and worked at Regal Fruit, Oro and Gold Digger sheds in varied capacities. Bruce was also a guard at Keyport and Indian Island. His favorite job of all was working on the weed crew for the USFS. He considered it a challenge to locate one musk thistle in the thousands of acres of forest.
Bruce’s main motivation was fishing. He was proud that he had been skunked on just about every river in Oregon and Washington. He had his successes too, and in all probability steelhead and trout populations will increase with his passing.
Bruce also enjoyed tying intricate knots used by sailors back in the days of clipper ships. It drove him crazy to see tangled rope or untied shoes.
Bruce was a good man, slow to anger, but fierce when roused. He was a defender of the underdogs, always picked up hitchhikers, and fed strays. He never passed judgement on anyone and respected all cultures and beliefs.
At Bruce’s request, no services will be held.
He is survived by his best friend of 36 years and wife Kathryn (Kaye) Chester.
Bergh Funeral Service and Crematory in care of arrangements.