If there was any question about how many people Derrick Tanner Smith touched in his time on earth, it was answered by the hundreds of people who were at the community centre Saturday afternoon to memorialize the 19-year-old who died suddenly late last month.
Family, friends, teachers, colleagues and more were on hand to remember the young man who’s spirit and zest for life touched them.
“I’m sure most of us did not realize the profound impact Derrick had on others but where love is, so will others be,” said funeral director Gary Sulz. “For most, Derrick was loved. He was demonstrative in that love, he wasn’t afraid to show it, to speak it or to be it.”
Sulz began the ceremony with a mournful country song before speaking about Derrick’s ability to love and draw people to him. He spoke of his love of the outdoors, his big truck, his dune buggy and spending time with friends and his girlfriend.
He also talked about Derrick’s love of his family – mother Marilyn, father Cory and brother Shawn.
“He had uncanny ability to unite unique and eclectic groups of people into a larger group of just friends,” he said. “One of Derrick’s treat to the world was his gift of mooning. Your day might not be complete until Derrick shared his gift with you.”
That last sentiment was re-inforced later when one of Derrick’s friends mooned the crowd following several emotional remarks.
Derrick’s great-aunt spoke about spending time with him as a child, taking him to the library and the hot springs and one time fearing she broke his leg on the slide in the park.
An older cousin of his related a story of a time when Derrick was young but convinced her that he and his brother were indeed allowed to play with an axe.
“Derrick was a mischievous child and he was a happy child and I too will miss him,” she said.
One of his high school teachers told a story about how Derrick was able to encourage a fellow student to take part in a reading program and eventually come to love it.
Revelstoke Secondary School principal Mike Hooker said Smith was most remembered by teachers for his ability to get along well with others.
“At the high school what we remember Derrick for is not whether he got As or Bs or Cs,” he said. “What we remember about Derrick is the qualities he had and the character he had. The words that jump to mind are honesty and caring.”
Almost everybody referred to how happy he was. As one person put it, he came from “happy genes.”
One friend said Derrick turned him and all his friends into loving people, able to express themselves to each other.
“Here we are, at 19 and 20. There’s not much legacy for us yet,” he said. “We still have a lot to create but Derrick’s legacy his friends, his family. I’ll miss him a lot.”
The most emotional moment was when a group of friends gathered around the podium together. Standing together, one friend spoke of Derrick’s ability to make friends with people.
“He was always there for me no matter what,” the friend said as tears swelled from his eyes. “He would be the first person I’d talk to, the first person I’d ask any advice from, the first person I’d call when I was in any kind of trouble. He was a person you could never be angry at no matter how mad you were. He always had a big smile.”
He listed some memories of Derrick – how he always fixed his hair, loved making perogies, “how he mocked my stupid faces with even stupider faces” and his love of his big, red truck. With each one, his tears grew stronger.
“Most of all, I’ll miss my best friend and my brother,” he said. “Derrick Smith, I love you man Rest in peace.”
Around the room, the emotions were similar.