James Derry, former Beth Steel manager, dies

James Derry, a former Bethlehem Steel Corp. manager and Navy veteran, died June 22 at Franklin Square Medical Center from sepsis. The White Marsh resident was 88.

He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, the son of Julius Derry, a steelworker, and Margaret Lengyel, a homemaker.

After graduating in 1947 from Pittsburgh High School, Mr. Derry worked as a roofer and steelworker at the National Tube Works Co. in McKeesport, Pa.

A natural athlete, he was an acrobat, weightlifter and bodybuilder. He also taught swimming, and swam across the Monongahela River in three minutes doing the Australian crawl, family members said.

Mr. Derry enlisted in the Navy in 1950 and served as a yeoman aboard destroyers USS Samuel B. Roberts, USS Bordelon and USS Eugene A. Greene. He was discharged in 1954.

After returning to Baltimore, he studied broadcast engineering for two years at the Baltimore Technical School, and graduated there. He taught for two years at the school, then rejected an offer from a radio station because it was night work.

In 1955, he went to work at Beth Steel in Sparrows Point and rose to become a manager in charge of customer service and responsible for shipping and expediting orders for cold rolled sheet and galvanized metal products. He retired in 1992.

He also owned and operated a TV repair business on the side with a partner, family members said.

Mr. Derry enjoyed vacationing in the Thousand Islands in upstate New York and fishing. He was also an avid collector of records from the 1940s and 1950s.

His wife of 60 years, the former Eileen Rothgaber, died in 2013.

He was a member of Sovereign Grace Church, 11620 Crossroads Circle, Middle River, where a celebration of life service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Mr. Derry is survived by two sons, John Derry of Parkville and Jeff Derry of Oxford, Pa.; a daughter, Brenda Jackson, of Phoenix in Baltimore County; and nine grandchildren. Another son, James Derry, died in 2007.

— Frederick N. Rasmussen

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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