Obituary for PAUL JACOB DERR

Known for his sense of humor and outgoing personality, Paul Jacob Derr went “home” on Thursday, June 13, 2019, after a decline from vascular dementia and cancer.

Paul was born in Akron, Ohio, and grew up on a small farm in Bath, Ohio. He graduated from Bath High School and started college at Ohio Northern University (ONU), where he met the love of his life, Erma Susany, during their freshman year.

Having accomplished his most important college goal, marrying Erma, Paul left ONU to begin a career in retail sales at O’Neil’s Department Store in Akron.

In 1951, he was drafted into the Marines during the Korean War. After basic training, Paul and Erma moved to North Carolina, where Paul served at Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point, reaching the rank of sergeant.

After his honorable discharge, they returned to the north and lived in Wadsworth, OH, and Erie, PA, until “Dreary Erie” convinced them to move to Punta Gorda, FL, in 1959 and open DeGar Interiors, a home decorating store.

In 1964, Paul accepted a position with Sears Roebuck & Co., where he enjoyed a long career that moved him to many cities in the South.

Early in his career with Sears, as a department manager in Memphis, he kept the store open after hours for Elvis Presley to shop for clothes for needy children. Paul also told a story about Elvis returning a lawn mower trailer after it was damaged giving rides around Graceland, presumably after much partying.

He spent several years in Florence, SC, as store manager, followed by time in Birmingham, AL, and Memphis, TN. He and Erma eventually moved to San Ramon, CA, where he concluded his career as the district commercial sales manager for Sears on the west coast. Paul and Erma retired to Valrico, FL, in 1991.

In retirement, Paul pursued his interest in his family, traveling with Erma throughout Europe to research and update the Derr family history. He also was an active member of Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church, where he served as senior warden on the vestry.

Paul is survived by his wife of 69 years, Erma, and his children Mark, (Dave), Brian (Will), and Paula (Joe), and grandchildren, Jacob, John, Tom and Emma.

He was preceded in death by his Father, Dwight; his mother, Hazel; and his two brothers, Ken and Tom.

A celebration of his life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on July 20, 2019, at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church, 604 N. Valrico Road, Valrico, FL 33594

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in Paul’s memory to the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church(address above) or the Cure Alzheimers Fund at


Upcoming Events

Get Directions
Service Times

July 20, 2019

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church,

604 N. Valrico Road, Valrico, FL 33594

1 PM

Get Directions

Share a Memory

No share a memories found.