DR. DEREK BRANDES Good Friday, April 10, 2020, God called his good and faithful servant home. Derek Brandes, EdD, 50, passed away peacefully at home holding his wife's hand, after a 15 month battle with cancer. Derek was known for his happy disposition; always a smile on his face with a positive attitude. A faithful man of God, Derek had unwavering trust that God was good and would take care of him. Derek was a counselor, mentor, leader, and friend. In his son's words, "He was a brave man that was ready to conquer any challenge." Derek was the first born child of David and Ann Brandes. He was born in Okinawa, Japan while his father served in the Army. After the Army, his parents settled in the Grant Park neighborhood of Portland. Derek attended Hollyrood Elementary. His family moved to the Tri-Cities from Portland when he was nine. He attended Jason Lee Elementary, and was a proud member of the cross guard. Once, during a storm, Derek expressed huge concern for the flag that was hung at the school. The principal at the time, nicknamed Derek 'Captain America' for his sense of pride and duty. This sense of duty proved valuable later in life. He attended Hanford High School, where he played basketball, and wrote for the school newspaper. After graduating from Hanford High School, he pursued a degree from Washington State University in Speech Communication. Derek was very involved with campus and dorm life and stayed at WSU to get his Master's in Communication. His first job was at WSU Tri-Cities as an Associate Director for Transfer Relations and Outreach. While there, he was also a part time Speech Communication teacher at Yakima Valley Community College. After WSU, he went to Columbia Basin College where he became the Assistant Dean for Student Success and Retention. Derek developed a First Year Introduction Program for Community College students. The benefits of this program still continue around the state today. Derek continued his advancement at CBC as the Dean for Career and Technical Education. In his last years at CBC, he also simultaneously became Interim Dean for Health Sciences. While at CBC, he served as an Assistant Coach for the Women's Basketball team. He helped lead the 2004-2005 team to the NWAC Championship. In 2017, the team was inducted into the CBC Athletic Hall of Fame and, in 2018, that team was inducted into the NWAC Hall of Fame. In 2005, Derek met his wife, Catherine (Cate) Reim. They married in November of that year. They welcomed their son, Dawson, in February of 2007. While Derek loved his career, he was especially proud of his family, and to be a father. In 2013, Derek went on to earn his doctorate in Educational Leadership from WSU. Shortly thereafter, he became the Vice President of Instruction at Green River Community College, in Auburn, WA. Gaining a wealth of experience in his four years at Green River, he applied for his dream job. In 2016, he was hired as the President of Walla Walla Community College. He couldn't have been more excited. Derek loved his job and the people he worked with. He loved getting to know students and was encouraging to everyone. He would stand out on the sidewalk by the parking lot the first day of every quarter and shake the students' hands welcoming them. He had an open door policy and felt it was important for everyone to have a voice. Derek lost a lot of sleep over budget cuts and fought for more funding for community colleges; scheduling meetings with the Legislature any chance he could get. He believed students should never have to pay for a degree and come out with a job that paid minimum wage. He sought out programs that were sustainable and needed by the local economy. Graduations were his favorite. He was so proud of all the students and their accomplishments. Derek would attend up to 14 different graduations between four campuses; Clarkston, Walla Walla, the Washington State Penitentiary, and Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. He was so proud of the education that WWCC was able to provide to the inmates and heard many grateful stories. He spoke of the pride he saw on their faces upon graduating. Just a month before his passing, he resigned his position at WWCC. He said, "Stress and cancer don't go well together," wanting to focus more on his health and family. He was excited to be offered an opportunity to return home to his CBC family in April to become the Senior Special Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives. Unfortunately, his disease progressed rapidly and he passed away before he was able to begin. Derek and his wife are die-hard COUGS. One doesn't need to look too far even before entering the home to see the array of crimson and gray. One of their fondest memories as a couple was attending ESPN College Game Day in Pullman with our good friends George and Janie Frasier. It was such a thrilling day for all COUGS to finally have Ol' Crimson fly at "home". It was an amazing day with friends and a bonus Cougar win over the Oregon Ducks. Derek made such a positive impact on so many and will be missed dearly. He is remembered as a beloved husband to Cate, father to Dawson and bonus daughter Casey (Kelly) Herron, grandson to Kathleen Wall, son to David and Ann Brandes, brother to Kristine (Dave) Teal and Kari (Ryan) Ciolli. Son-in-law to Ellwood and Nini Reim, brother-in-law to Guy (JoAnn Knecht) Reim, Paul (Marie) Reim, and Marie (Doug) Jackson. He was Uncle D to Mason and Malia Ciolli, John and Josie Teal, Garrett, Grayson, Gavin, and Joeli Reim, Nathan Reim, Elizabeth (Micah) Van Rensburg, and Peter Reim, Zach and Alex Jackson, and Papa D to Parker, Quinn, and Brody. He was also loved by many aunts, uncles and cousins. He is preceded in death by his grandfather Frank Edward Wall, grandfather Robert Alfred Brandes, grandmother Mildred Ruth Brandes, and cousin, Dr. Shawn Faw. Though work was his life, family was important. We were so grateful to have had a "Griswold Family Christmas" with Derek's family this past year celebrating his many years of putting up extravagant, outdoor Christmas light displays. We hold this and many fond memories in our hearts. We will miss our family movie time, swimming, many hours of football and other assorted sports on TV, and Sunday adventures. We would be remiss if we didn't thank Dr. S. Lee, Sarah B, Jennifer J., and Polina at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Their care for not just Derek, but our family, was extraordinary! Thank you also to the many medical professionals at St. Mary's in his days with you and to the Walla Walla Community Hospice for helping make his final days at home comfortable and for your compassionate care of our family as well. Thank you Pastor Jim Snyder and our Blue Mountain Community Church family for your support and prayers. A graveside service was held April 15, 2020 where Derek was laid to rest at Desert Lawn Memorial Park in Kennewick, WA by the statue of Christ. "Come unto me all he that labor and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28 A scholarship fund has been set up in Derek's name at Columbia Basin College. If interested, donations can be made by mailing a check to CBC Foundation, C/O Derek Brandes Scholarship Fund, 2600 N. 20 th Ave, Pasco, WA 99301 or online at www.columbiabasin.edu/donate (look for Derek Brandes Scholarship Fund under the tab "Apply my donation to"). We will have a memorial service when the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. You can keep in touch and updated on this information at caringbridge.org/visit/derekbrandes "Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" Psalms 23:6 "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and portion forever" Psalms 73:26
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Published in Tri-City Herald on May 23, 2020.