William E. “Bill” Derryberry

After a courageous and exhausting battle with multiple myeloma, William E. “Bill” Derryberry died at home July 17, 2017. Bill was born the only child of Ed and Mildred Derryberry, November 14, 1939. The couple separated when Bill was very young, and his mother remarried Tommie Jennings who became “Daddy” to Bill. Bill’s childhood was not only enriched by the love of his parents, but by his mother’s sister and her husband, Auberrie and Penny Penrod, and their children. Shortly after leaving Ramsey High in Birmingham, Bill joined the Air Force and married Sandra Jarrell in 1958. Bill is survived by 3 children from this marriage: Scott, Blaine, and Loree. Bill also leaves his loving wife and friend of over 46 years Mary Helen (Hawes) and their children Jenny (Robert), Bo (Emily), and Kevin (Shekira). Family was everything for Bill. His pride and joy were his 8 grandchildren: Chasity Almazon; Shelby, Emily, Robbie Mosley; Kaylan, Natalie, Claire, and Lucy Derryberry. With a B.S. from Samford University and a M. Ed. from the University of Montevallo, Bill worked in law enforcement and education. A student and teacher of history and constitutional law, he enjoyed both professions simultaneously until he left policing in 1985. Retirement from the classroom in 1997 left him time to pursue his love of friends and playing bridge. An exceptionally good card player, he loved these friends of his retirement years who share his love of the game. Bill treated people with respect and dignity. He loved to talk and would approach people wherever he went to ask questions and enjoy conversation. Bill loved to write down his thoughts and sent many letters to the editor regarding issues of government. An avid football fan, he never missed a Saturday watching and cheering for SEC teams each fall. However, he lived and breathed Bama football and could yell Roll Tide with the true conviction that comes from the certainty of victory. Bill never went without a book to lull him to sleep or keep him company. He loved precise language, worked crosswords in ink, and played a good game of Scrabble. He was the master of metaphor. A fan of instrumental music, he made sure smooth jazz filled the air when he drove or relaxed in his office. A witty, infuriating, intelligent, stubborn, warm, and unforgettable man who loved his God, his country, and his family, Bill will be greatly missed. The family will receive guest At Charter Funeral Home on Friday, July 21, 2017 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM.  A Celebration of Life will begin at 11:00 AM also at Charter Funeral Home. Interment will be in Alabama National Cemetery at 1:15 PM.


  1. David D. Wininger on July 18, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Will sure miss my friend of almost 70 years. So happy that he had great children and a loving wife, for whose peace my prayers are lifted.

  2. Lisa Brock on July 18, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    I love all of these words and the way they paint a mental picture of the man. I am so sorry for your loss Kevin. He sounds like quite an interesting man, and that typically transfers to fatherhood too!

  3. Kathy Daum on July 18, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Much love and sympathy. As I’ve said before, please call me if you need anything. I will call you soon.

  4. Linda Carswell on July 19, 2017 at 1:42 am

    What a great write-up of the man who was husband to Mary Helen, a “sister” of mine. I never met him, but feel I knew him through her, and even more by reading this. I’m sorry I never had the opportunity to know him first hand. I know his passing leaves a huge hole in their large family, and my heart goes out to them.

  5. Carol Czerw on July 19, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Mary Helen, I remember when you and Bill we courting. I don’t believe I ever met anyone more smitten than you! And what a great guy to be smitten with. Truly you two built a wonderful life, not to be measured in dollars and cents, but rather, in memories and family. God bless you and yours in your time of grief. I am thinking of you.

  6. Tara on July 19, 2017 at 11:14 am

    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. God promises to be close to the brokenhearted. PS 34:18. I hope you find comfort in God’s promise & in the many wonderful memories you made & shared together. You have my condolences. The following link will take you to a tract entitled ” Can the dead really live again?” It has brought comfort to many & I hope it will do the same for you. https://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/dead-live-again-tract/dead-live-again/

  7. Emma Lou Edwards on July 19, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Mary Helen, Your Bill’s obit really reveals that he will live on with the kind of love he left with family and loved ones. He sounds like the intelligent and gentle kind of partner perfectly suited for you. I wish I could have known him. May God truly bless you my friend.

  8. Tracey Johnson Hayes on July 20, 2017 at 12:07 am

    Lifting the family up in prayer. Mr Derryberry was one of my favorite teachers at Jess Lanier. He was very kind, caring and a step up type man. Take your rest in the garden of heaven.

  9. Alton on July 20, 2017 at 1:13 am

    I remember him as an awesome educator and such a kind person. I was in his first class when he began to teach at Jess Lanier. Rest In Peace Mr Derryberry

  10. Phyllis Coleman on July 20, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Sorry for your lost,My prayers are with you and your family.
    He taught me at Jess Lanier High School BESSEMER ALA

  11. Anthony Beard on July 20, 2017 at 11:43 am

    I always looked forward to his class at JLHS. He was a great teacher and treated his students as friends. I will always remember one story of many that he shared. A fellow officer arrested a young man for flipping him the middle finger. Later, in the courtroom, the judge told the officer he had no grounds to arrest the man and that he committed no crime. After all was said and done, as the officer was leaving the courtroom, he raised his middle finger to the judge and wished him a very nice day. Thank you, Mr. D for making us laugh and for your dedication.

  12. Rosa Folker on July 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Mr Derryberry was my teacher and mentor through high school. He was truly a great person and cared so much about his students. Love and prayers to the family.

  13. Angela Hamilton Mack on July 20, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I love the Derryberry’s. my Condolences to you Mrs Derryberry. You and Mr Derryberry were great leaders at Jess Lanier High School. I will never forget the two of you.

  14. Connie Heath Pirkey on July 20, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    This truly saddens me. Bill was the best teacher and friend to me while I was in high school. Lost touch after I married and moved out of state, but he was always in the back of my thoughts. I pray that his family remember how many lives he truly touched in both of his careers.

  15. Jackie Hill on July 21, 2017 at 12:02 am

    Mr. Derryberry truly be missed. He was a great experience teacher it wasn’t a dull moment in his classroom. I’m so grateful l got a chance to sit in his classroom.. RIP one of JLHS Greatest

  16. Crystal Nettles Womack on July 21, 2017 at 6:44 am

    You both were such an encouragement to me as a teenager. My prayers are with you for comfort and healing.

  17. Danette Boyd-Foreman on July 21, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Condolences to the family of Mr. Derryberry. A kind man and teacher. R.I.P.

  18. Sheila Rudolph on July 23, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Man im just now seeing that Mr. Derryberry has spent his last days here. You made a difference in a lot of students lives and many have went b4 u. I often wonder were you still living on Clarendon up from the boys club in those big houses because everytime i pass by i think of him. Rest on Prince You were truly a remarkable person. You have earn your wings. Soarrr. U will be truly missed.