DERRICK--John. October 16, 1932, Bennettsville, South Carolina- June 19, 2014, New York City. The son of Oscar Derrick and Pauline Liles Derrick. John Richard Derrick "Dickie" to his family and Dick to his school friends--grew up in Bennettsville obsessed with Hollywood musicals, especially the dancing. After high school and a few local jobs in a building supply and lumber yard, in a cinema etc., he entered the United States Air Force. While stationed in Tampa he used every minute of his spare time off base to study with Gail Armour, a well-known ballet mistress in Florida. Ms. Armour saw a potential "danseur noble" in John with his tall good looks and supple yet muscular body. At the end of his military service, and under the guidance of Ms. Armour, he applied for, and won, a scholarship to the renowned Marie Rembert School of Ballet in London. The application involved sending a 16mm film of his performance for Marie Rembert's consideration. He trained with Rembert for two years and then found work in Italy with regional companies, chiefly in Rome where he continued working with private teachers. On returning to the United States he spent time with The Metropolitan Opera which led to a call from The Miami Ballet with which he had a long association that continued even after his primary residence was established in New York. Being a jack-of-all-theatrical-trades, including acting, he appeared frequently in musicals, dramatic and comic plays. His life partner, Milton Beyer, worked in theatrical production and at a certain point the men bought a pleasant apartment in Greenwich Village and opened a vintage goods store on Christopher St., "keep the wolves away between jobs" Milton proclaimed. It was successful for many years and allowed John to take theatrical engagements as they came along. Milton preceded John in death in 1995. John (Dickie) is survived by his sister, Barbara Derrick Crosland, brother-in-law, James Crosland, and numerous nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces. As per his wish, John has been cremated. Later there will be a gathering of friends to remember John and his wonderful life in the theater.
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Published in The New York Times on July 6, 2014