John Allen “Jerry” Derivaux

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 15, 2009

John Allen “Jerry” Derivaux, 79, passed away Friday, March 13, 2009, in Vicksburg.

Visitation is today, March 15, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Fisher Funeral Home in Vicksburg, with a Christian wake service to follow at 6 p.m. A 9 a.m. visitation will precede funeral services, set for 10 a.m. Monday at St. Paul Catholic Church, with burial following at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Jerry was born Jan. 6, 1930, and was the third son of Dr. and Mrs. Aloysius Joseph Derivaux of Vicksburg. He was preceded in death by his parents and his older brother, Dr. Joseph Helgason Derivaux.

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He graduated from St. Aloysius High School in 1948. While at St. Aloysius, he was the quarterback of the football team and played saxophone in the school band. He also earned the rank of Eagle Scout as a member of Boy Scout Troop 7.

After high school, Jerry served in the United States Naval Reserve.

He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in finance. While at Notre Dame, he was a member of the school’s track team. Jerry also enjoyed competing as a lightweight boxer. In 1952, he married his longtime love, Jane Cowan Wailes. 

In his younger days, Jerry was an avid golfer and enjoyed playing the game with his special group of golf friends at the Vicksburg Country Club. He was active in the community and was involved in the Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts of America, Chamber of Commerce and the Vicksburg Jaycees. He served on the board of directors of the Bank of Vicksburg/The American Bank, the Vicksburg-Warren Savings & Loan and the Catholic School Board. He always supported his alma maters, St. Aloysius High School and the University of Notre Dame. Jerry loved to devote his spare time to the back yard, beautifying his garden. In his later years, he spent his Saturdays watching Notre Dame football.

He was a lifelong member of St. Paul Catholic Church, where he served as usher and lector. His children remember the early morning trips to church where he would take them to 6:30 a.m. Mass before school.

Jerry owned one of the most successful State Farm agencies in Mississippi. He was instrumental in helping establish State Farm as the No. 1 auto and homeowner insurer in the state. He began his State Farm agency career in 1960, and he immediately became a leader in the industry. He received numerous awards, among them the Ambassador Travel Qualifier Award, Legion of Honor Award, Bronze Tablet Award, Silver Scroll Award, Golden Triangle Award, Crystal Excellence Award and the prestigious President’s Club Award. He retired from State Farm in the summer of 2006. His legacy with State Farm continues as his son, Preston Derivaux; daughter, Diane Kemp; and son-in-law, Ken Jones, carry on the family State Farm tradition.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Jane, and his seven children — daughter, Jane and husband Ken Jones of Ridgeland; son, Judge Allen Derivaux and wife Candy of Vicksburg; daughter, Mary and husband Mike Bass of Houston, Texas; daughter, Ann and husband Eddie Haden of Vicksburg; son, Preston Derivaux and wife Nancy of Jackson; daughter, Diane and husband William Kemp of Vicksburg; and son, Jerry Noel Derivaux of Vicksburg. Additionally, he is survived by his 14 grandchildren — Cameron Jones and Jordan and husband Adams Yerger; Townsend, Mattie Carlyle, Mollie Jo, Stratton and Hampton Derivaux; Heidi and Kelly Haden; Rob and Beth Derivaux; and Caroline, Carter and Wailes Kemp. He is also survived by his brother, the Rev. Donald Derivaux of Vicksburg.

Pallbearers will be Kenneth Renea Jones, Michael Thomas Bass, Samuel Edwin Haden, William Thomas Kemp III, Cameron Derivaux Jones and Robert Preseton Derivaux Jr.

Honorary pallbearers will be Jimmy Waring, Leonard Katzenmeyer, Jack Stamm, Joe Gerache, Jack Geary and Larry Franck.

Our father was the best person he could be in every way. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather who cared so much and was most generous and supportive to all. He was one-half of the best couple we will ever know.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Vicksburg Catholic School, 1900 Grove St., Vicksburg, MS 39183.