In 1999, a U.S. Navy veteran made arrangements for his burial with the now-defunct Burley Funeral Chapel in Oak Harbor.
Fast forward 20-plus years, and, on July 7, Roy Derrick died at age 75 on July 7 in Everett.
A retired senior chief ocean systems maintenance technician, Derrick was born in 1945. He served in the Navy for 21 years, reaching the rank of senior chief petty officer. His last duty station was at what is now known as the Naval Ocean Processing Facility on Whidbey Island.
Because he has no known surviving family members, there was a possibility that Derrick would have slipped in obscurity, without even an obituary.
But Wallin Funeral Home and Cremation in Oak Harbor had purchased Derrick’s contract after Burley’s went out of business in 2017.
When Kelly Davidson, funeral director at Wallin, received a call about Derrick’s death, she went through her files and pulled out a blue folder that contained the details of how the veteran wanted to be buried.
As a result, Derrick will be laid to rest at Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville on Tuesday, July 21. An open casket visitation will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
The funeral is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and a graveside service will follow.
“When I come across a veteran who has no family, I want to make sure our community knows because we are so close to his last station,” Davidson said. “I’m trying to give him the honors that he is due for his service to our country and I’m desperate to find people in our community who know this particular veteran.”
Davidson said she reached out to the local VFW, American Legion and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island to see if there is anyone who knew Derrick and would like to pay their respects. The Honor Guard and Patriot Guard Riders plan to attend the funeral. It will also be live streamed on the Wallin Funeral Home Facebook page for a friend of the veteran who lives in Alabama, and anyone who may have known him in Everett and Oak Harbor.
In 1968, Derrick attended Basic Sonar School in San Diego and Fleet Sonar School in Key West, Florida. He worked on the Navy’s Sound Surveillance System and was stationed at many naval bases in the Caribbean Sea, likely tracking Russian submarines during the Cold War.
In 1986 he served at his last duty station Naval Facility Whidbey Island, which later became the Naval Ocean Processing Facility Whidbey Island in 1987, indicating that Derrick was likely a plank owner. He retired in 1989.
Throughout his career, Derrick received the Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, 4 Meritorious Unit Commendations, 5 Good Conduct awards, Navy Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, Pistol Sharpshooter Ribbon, Rifle Marksman Ribbon and the Flag Letter of Commendation.
This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.