Ernest V. Derr, 92, of Keokuk, passed away at his home on January 8th, 2014.
He was born on October 29, 1921, near Donnellson, Iowa, the son of Virgil Emery and Alice Marie Frueh Derr. He married Marianna Lewis in 1946. She survives.
From the time Ernie was old enough to work he helped his father in the farm fields. As he got older, he worked as a farm hand for neighbors for one dollar a day and his dinner. Then as a young man he got a job working in the Marshall Auto Store in Keokuk, IA. In 1941 he married Urbina Gardner. They had one daughter, Karen. They were later divorced. In 1942 he joined the Army and served in the European Theater. He was in the 6th Armored Division and drove a weasel and went ahead of his Company and laid wire for communications.
He earned the rank of Corporal and received the Bronze star and other commendations. He was proud to have served his country. He was honorably discharged in 1945 and returned home and went back to work at the Marshall Auto Store. He eventually transferred to the Ft. Madison store and became the manager for a few years.
In 1950 he began his stock car racing career in the I.M.C.A. circuit. In 1952 he quit working at the Marshall Auto Store, moved back to Keokuk permanently, and made racing his life career. He worked many long hard hours to prepare the best race car possible. His dedication and perseverance allowed him to win a great number of races and he was a 12 time I.M.C.A. Champion. He raced for 26 plus years and in 21 states plus Canada. He was honored as a member of several racing sports halls of fame.
Ernest is survived by his wife Marianna Derr of sixty seven years of Keokuk, Iowa, his six children who all reside in Keokuk, Iowa, Nancy Ann (Steve) Smith, James Michael (Barbara) Derr; Steven Wayne (Carolyn) Derr; Russell Lewis (Judith) Derr; Randy Eugene (Nancy Jo) Derr; Danny Joe (Celley) Derr; Karen Garland Derr /Anderson of Florida; fifteen Grandchildren: Jeff Bennett; Beth Guy; Dannette Sargent; Ashley Haney; Stephanie Ragar; Angie Miller; Bruce, Ryan, Jacob, Alex, Zachary, Austin, and Aiden Derr, David and Douglas Anderson; eleven great grandchildren: Makenzie, Taylor, and Madelyn Guy; Bronson and Irelynd Sargent; Hayden Derr; Charli and Josi Haney; Ava Rae and Lincoln Derr; and Mia Miller; two sisters, Verna (Don) White and Virginia LeMatty.
Preceded in death by his parents, Virgil and Alice Derr; mother and father-in-law Isaac Newton and Cora Christy/Lewis; maternal grandparents John and Mary Frueh/Derr; paternal grandparents Screno and Arvilla Allan/Derr; his only brother Guy Derr who was killed in action in Auchen, Germany while serving as a private in the Army during World War II; sister, Mabel Leeper; 2 brothers-in-law Harry LeMatty and Raymond Leeper; nieces Lori Leeper, Gina and Harriet LeMatty; nephews Rocky, Thad and Thomas LeMatty, Gary White and great nephew Kelly Stenson.
Visitation will be Sunday, January 12, from 12 to 5 P.M., with the family meeting friends from 1 to 5 P.M. Services will be held Monday, January 13, at 10:30 A.M. at DeJong-Greaves Celebration of Life Center located at 917 Blondeau Street. Burial at Keokuk National Cemetery will full military rites will immediately follow the service.
In lieu of flowers memorials can be made to Wounded Warriors, P.O. Box 758517 Topeka, Kansas 66675.
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