Lititz loses a legend

By , on February 3, 2016
The cast of the 1987 Ambucs version of “South Pacific” included (back, left to right) Bob Derck as Yeoman Herbert Quale, Rich Rance as Professor, Dave Ross as Luther Billis, Joe Rizzo as Abner, and (kneeling) Ron Sandhaus as Stewpot.

The cast of the 1987 Ambucs version of “South Pacific” included (back, left to right) Bob Derck as Yeoman Herbert Quale, Rich Rance as Professor, Dave Ross as Luther Billis, Joe Rizzo as Abner, and (kneeling) Ron Sandhaus as Stewpot.

He helped design some of Lititz’s most cherished landmarks as we see them today.

He was a business and civic leader, actively involved in the Ambucs, Warwick Ambulance, Lititz Historical Foundation, Linden Hall, the Lititz Moravian Church, Moravian Manor, and borough government.

He was Robert Ira Derck, and Lititz was part of his family.

Bob died Jan. 26, surrounded by family, and funeral services were held in downtown Lititz last Friday as local dignitaries honored the life of a celebrated landscape architect and land planner who helped make the famed Derck & Edson firm the success story that it is today.

Jim Wenger, one of the current partners of the firm and one of Bob’s long-time friends, said his pal loved his work and managed to brighten the lives of the people around him.

“Bob is one of those people who leaves an imprint on everyone he interacts with,” Wenger said. “Very unassuming, I doubt he really ever appreciated how many lives he had a positive impact upon.”

Passion for his work, his creative eye, and artistic touch were among his noteworthy trademarks.

“I would guess he really never considered being a landscape architect a career or job, because he enjoyed what he did so much,” Wenger said. “To the point he continued to consult and work on projects well after retiring from the firm.”

Wenger said Derck and Charlie Edson left a lasting imprint on the local firm that is still evident today as the company continues “to strive to make the outdoors great,” which is Derck & Edson’s current mission statement.

“Bob was a friend, mentor, peer and business partner,” he said. “His ‘light’ will truly be missed in this world, but his legacy continues.”

Bob Hess, remembers the days of writing and performing community plays (often spoofs on Lititz) with Derck and Dale Shelley for the Ambucs. These productions were a town tradition during the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.

“He was always willing help, and anything to promote Lititz, especially downtown Lititz,” Hess said.

He talked about Derck’s ability as a writer and actor, especially his ability to make funny faces.

“He was such a funny guy with such a great sense of humor,” Hess said. “His face was like rubber, he could make these screwy faces every time somebody wanted to take his picture.”

The play “How to Succeed in Business” proved to be the perfect vehicle to showcase that talent.

“There’s an elevator scene where three elevator doors would open and close,” he said. “Every time one would open, there would be Bob standing there with a different look on his face. It was one of the funniest things I remember.”

“We have a lot of memories and stories about Bob!” said Shirley Flickenger, who has been an active Ambuc along with her husband Bill for many years. “He was such a great person, and was known for his great stage presence and roles, which would always be such a laugh. It was tough to be down when you were around Bob. He always had a smile.”

Phil McCloud, son of Paul McCloud, one of the founders of the current Derck & Edson firm said he will always remember Derck’s commitment to community.

“He was a guy who was involved in almost everything,” he said. “We’re going to miss him.”

Read Bob Derck’s full obituary here.

 

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