Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography
Fellow Arkansans – neighbors, colleagues and friends – are sharing a light of peace, kindness and generosity that makes The Natural State a little brighter. Inviting Arkansas and Methodist Family Health celebrate individuals who illuminate our community with goodness. Nominate someone today for a future feature that SHINES.
Thelma and Bill Derickson live humbly on 40 acres “about two miles outside of town.” It’s a small town that the couple loves. “Leslie, Arkansas is a town of less than 400 people. That’s where I was raised and where we eventually retired,” Bill explains. Though they are both retired, Thelma and Bill remain active volunteers and community members. With less than 8,000 residents in Searcy County, their family business and civic leadership have established the Dericksons as beloved neighbors.
Following Bill’s service in the U.S. Navy, the couple married in 1967 and have two children as well as three grandchildren. Thelma is a retired home economics teacher, and Bill is retired from his family’s lumber company – Derickson Lumber Co. The company, a fourth generation business was established in 1907 and is now operated by Bill’s children. Methodist Family Health Foundation Director of Development Bec Dwyer-Coop explains, “They’ve stayed in Leslie amongst many changes, raising their girls and supporting the community in Leslie and through their works with the Methodist church.”
Bill and Thelma are active Gideons and Gideon Auxiliary members, providing bibles in hospitals and nursing homes as well as hotels in 200 countries. Additionally, the Dericksons are parishioners of Leslie Methodist Church. They were introduced to Methodist Family Health through the church. Thelma and her friends made quilts for the organization to share with families who needed them. “I just love what Methodist Family Health does. It is a fabulous organization. They help so many families and children,” Bill affirms.
Their church also has been the recipient of their generosity for years, but the Dericksons’ philanthropy spans throughout the county. Bill jokes, “I’ve practically been on every board.” His commitments include the Leslie Community Center, Leslie Hospital, Leslie School as well as Marshall Library, Marshall Community Center and the Chamber of Commerce. Bec reveals, “They are the kind of people who work hard, are innovative and have held tight to their values. They don’t overspend, they don’t seek accolades for their service to others.”
This southern man upholds, “I’m not a city boy. I’m country and love country living.” As they witnessed the evolution of their town, they work to preserve what makes Leslie a special place. The good life, for them, is about family and faith. Bec fondly remarks, “They are the kind of people that I hope my husband and I turn out to be when we look back on our lives. That kind of kindness, strength and confidence in your life only comes from knowing your values and sticking to them throughout life.”
Sponsored by Methodist Family Health | Nominations accepted at Foundation@MethodistFamily.org
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