Raymond Ernest Derryberry
Raymond Ernest Derryberry
  • March 5, 1919 - January 8, 2018
  • Palisade, Colorado

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Raymond Ernest Derryberry was born in Ft. Towson, Oklahoma, to Ed and Chloe Derryberry, on March 5, 1919. They moved to West-Central Oklahoma, which was Indian Territory at the time. Their farm was between Mt. View and Carnegie.
Ernest farmed with his dad and attended school at Cowden. He was a good athlete, participating in basketball, baseball, and track. Throughout high school, he played baseball for the town's team. He met Helen Smalley while playing basketball. They soon fell in love and were married in 1940. At the time, she was still in high school so she returned home to complete her education. Her sisters knew that Helen had gotten married, but her parents did not. After her graduation, they started their life together on a farm between Carnegie and Eakly. In 1943, their first child was born, a son, Ed. Their daughter, Joyce Kay, was born in 1945. During that time, Ernest farmed and continued to play baseball on the town's team.
In the late 1940's they traveled to Palisade, Colorado to pick peaches for Mr. Ellis, who had previously lived in Oklahoma as well. Ernest was Mr. Ellis's best peach picker, while Helen was his best packer. They made the trip to Colorado to harvest the peaches for many years. They had a great love for Colorado, both loved to can the peaches and breathe the mountain air.
In 1952, Ernest sold the farm in Oklahoma, loaded his family in a Dodge truck, and moved to Palisade. Mr. Ellis helped Ernest find his own orchard and taught him the "right" way to grow peaches. He became one of the top producers in the valley. Many of their Oklahoma friends traveled to Colorado to help the Derryberrys harvest their first crop. Helen's brother and sister moved to Palisade, and Ernest's brother also moved to the area from Texas. They all bought orchards in the Palisade area. Helen's cousin, Jack Suter came later and bought the orchard owned by Mr. Ellis. Ernest still had a love for baseball, playing on Palisade's home team.
They worked in the peach orchards until 1984, when Ernest's son, Ed, took over. In the 1960's and 70's, the orchards struggled as the peaches froze during the spring freezes. He worked in the construction industry to save the family farm. He was an avid deer and elk hunter and trout fisherman. They also had a boat, and made many trips to Lake Powell with friends.
In 1989, Ernest and Helen sold the orchard and moved to Clifton. They took the Dale Carnegie course and joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary. After retirement they enjoyed traveling, taking trips to Boise, Idaho to visit their daughter Joyce, her husband Carl Yungeberg, and their grandchildren, Tim and Kurt. Joyce and Carl also took Ernest and Helen on many trips. Tragically, Joyce and Carl were killed in a plane crash in 1999.
Ernest and Helen spent a few winters in south Texas, fishing and spending time with brothers and sisters who also went south for the winter. They made many trips to Oklahoma to visit family and friends. Every year they attended the Smalley family reunion, where all of Helen's siblings and their families met in order to maintain a strong family bond.
Helen passed away in 2009 at the age of 89. She and Ernest were married for 69 wonderful years. After her death, Ernest lived alone in his Clifton home. He spent his time working in the yard and growing the strawberries that he and Helen had planted years earlier. He continued to grow grapes, made his own grape juice, and had a big vegetable garden. He always produced more than he could consume. In 2017, he sold his home and moved in with his son Ed and daughter-in-law Sandy in Palisade. They worked in his garden every day and dried bushels of grapes. He loved Sandy's family as his own, and set the example for his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. And he never lost his sense of humor.
Ernest passed away at 4:40 a.m. on January 8, 2018. He will be missed.