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Derys Mardell Hunt Harper
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Birth: Mar. 5, 1935
Vermilion County
Illinois, USA
Death: Sep. 19, 2011
Champaign County
Illinois, USA

Derys was the first-born daughter of Russell Hunt and Mildred Wear. She grew up in Georgetown IL and Cayuga IN before her father landed a job with the IL-Central railroad and they settled for good in Villa Grove IL. Russell was skilled enough to build a house where his 7 children were raised and his wife, Mildred, lived for nearly 50 years.

High School, Marriage, and children
Derys graduated high school in Villa Grove in 1953, and married her sweetheart Arthur J. Harper, also a Villa Grove graduate, on June 20 that summer. Art was in the Air Force at that time, and they began their married life "on the run" in VA, NC, and SC where Art was stationed as a radioman. They purchased a small travel trailer to live in during his tour. Their first child was Terri Lynn, born in 1954; followed by Larry Wayne in 1958.

Back to Illinois
Following Art's military service, they moved back to Illinois. They lived in several locations: Loda, Springfield and on Matteson Drive in Villa Grove where Art built a home. They built another home off Brownfield Road in east Urbana in the late 1960s. During that time she worked for the Pontiac Car Dealership in Champaign. Derys studied and graduated from Beaumont Beauty School in downtown Champaign.

Back to Villa Grove
In 1969 Art moved his family to a home on 2nd Street in Villa Grove. Derys opened her own shop in 1970 in a spare room at their home and successfully operated it for the next 6 years. She also drove school buses for the Villa Grove school system during the same time period. In addition, she baby sat a nephew. Yes, she was a busy lady!

In 1976 she and Art moved to 2810 West William Street in Champaign IL. Art was working for the University, and Derys took work as a bookkeeper and secretary for first Ted Christman, then the Court Club Recreation center, and later several different offices at the University of Illinois. Her final position was at the Food Service Division of the U of I--from which she retired.

The family attended worship at the Villa Grove United Methodist Church in their Villa Grove days, and the Grace United Methodist Church in Urbana in the Champaign years. She and Art hosted Bible studies in their home and attended others over the years. Her faith in Jesus was real and she lived accordingly.

Doing For Others
Derys was an accomplished seamstress, along with loving to knit and crochet. She fashioned articles of clothing and bedspreads for her children and grandchildren. She baked amazingly decorated theme-based birthday cakes for the grandchildren, fulfilling their requests for colorful characters from cartoons or the latest children movies. The joy and love of her life were her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

A few of her and Art's past-times were square dancing on weekends, playing cards with friends, following Cardinal baseball, and cheering for the Illini football, basketball, and volleyball teams. In their latter years they enjoyed attending live music shows at Kickapoo Landing and Walnut State Park.

Family and Holidays
Probably her favorite times were Christmas, Thanksgiving and holidays where her family would gather for fellowship and meals. Derys and Art's hospitality was warm and heart-felt. The meals she prepared were excellent, and everyone was lovingly welcomed at their table.

Keeping In Touch
In Art and Derys' retirement, they spent many of their mornings meeting friends for coffee, and visiting Terri's and Larry's family for donuts or breakfast once a week. Their schedule was busy, with unfortunate doctor appointments included. She suffered with diabetes for over 50 years. Her eyesight waned and she had a deteriorating heart condition over the last few years.

Daughter Terri Harper-Richards now lives in Champaign; while son Larry Harper lives with his wife Karen in Villa Grove. Derys has 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Still living are two brothers, Phillip Hunt of Jefferson City Mo., and Wayne Hunt of Mahomet; two sisters, Phyllis Wells of Sebring FL, and Linda Hudson of Camargo IL. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Keith in 2010 and her sister Doris in 1950.

Our words cannot express the depth of love we have felt, and will continue to feel for this fine woman. She consistently displayed a self-sacrificial love and devotion to care for others ahead of herself. She lived to serve and to help, in any way she could. Even when the years had sapped her vitality and strength, she still insisted on helping however she could. She embodied the words of Christ: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." 
Family links: 
  Russell Leroy Hunt (1910 - 1955)
  Mildred M. Wear Hunt (1910 - 2009)
  Derys Mardell Hunt Harper (1935 - 2011)
  Doris Alvaline Hunt (1936 - 1950)*
  Keith Stewart Hunt (1938 - 2010)*
*Calculated relationship
Locust Grove Cemetery
Champaign County
Illinois, USA
Created by: Harold G. Richards
Record added: Sep 19, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 76742271
Derys Mardell <i>Hunt</i> Harper
Added by: Harold G. Richards
Derys Mardell <i>Hunt</i> Harper
Added by: Harold G. Richards
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I met you at one time, I knew Phil, from when I lived in Arkansas.
- Diane Hays mcKinstry
 Added: Mar. 1, 2012

- Jeanne Hughart Burdette ღ
 Added: Sep. 21, 2011

- Harold G. Richards
 Added: Sep. 19, 2011

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