Obituary: Arlene Mae Derleth

Strong and beloved wife, mother and grandmother


Arlene Mae Derleth, aka “MOM-O-5 Ds” or “Granny D,” died peacefully on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, having just turned 86 years old. She was surrounded by many loving family members telling her that she was loved and that she did well.

She was born on November 14, 1930 in Rochester, New York to Ralph and Isabelle Beikirch. Her father was a firefighter and her mother was a secretary, and they both volunteered many summers for Little League Baseball. She and her younger brother Bud shared many good memories of their parents’ time at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Arlene had a fun and loving childhood, during which she was often cared for by her Grandma Sophie and Grandpa Charlie. She joked, though, that she hated the accordion her mom forced her to play. She fondly recalled working as a telephone operator during high school, one of the only jobs she would have outside of the home until much later in life.

In her early teens, Arlene met the only man she would ever date, her sweetheart Gerald “Chip” Derleth.  They were married on October 14, 1950 while Chip was in the US Navy and they would eventually have five children, the 5-Ds of her first nickname—Don, Denise, Dennis, David and Dean. Don was born in 1953 in Connecticut where Mr. Derleth was attending culinary school, and Denise was born in 1955 in Florida. In 1956 Mr. Derleth’s older brother Harry convinced them to come to California, where Chip was hired as a baker at Du-par’s Restaurant (still a favorite restaurant at the LA Farmer’s Market, where Mrs. Derleth’s children enjoyed taking her to celebrate occasions like Mother’s Day.)

The final three Ds were born in California—Dennis in 1959, David in 1964 and Dean in 1965. Harry convinced Chip to join him in a brotherly construction business in 1965. After living in Glendale and then Norwalk for some time, they settled in the newly developing city of Cerritos in 1969. Their family and Harry’s matching family of five children spent a lot of time together, with all 10 cousins giving Arlene and Harry’s wife, Pat, a run for their money.

Mrs. Derleth was always active in many school and community groups, serving as “team mom” and “room mom” too many times over the years to count. She was a volunteer fixture at St. John of God and St. Linus, where all of the children attended elementary school. The Derleths were extremely active in the Norwalk Knights of Columbus, Council #3678, with Mr. Derleth being named Grand Knight in 1973. Mrs. Derleth was in charge of many K of C events, including a very successful fashion show fundraiser in October of 1973. Most of their best friendships were formed at the K of C, and she maintained those friendships throughout her life. One of her grandchildren, Sam, was named in honor of their very best friends from the K of C, Sam and Ruth Casarez of Norwalk.

Chip died unexpectedly in 1979, leaving Arlene to finish raising the children on her own. At the time the last two, David and Dean, were just 14 and 13, respectively. Although she had never worked outside of the home during her marriage, she had to promptly find a job. This she did, making $5 per hour as a secretary at a boiler company in South Gate. With a small amount of social security and that job, Mrs. Derleth was a 4’11” warrior who never let her children down. She was tough, compassionate and filled the role of two. She refused to let the tragedy define the children or the family. She could have let it do so and nobody would have judged her, but she never did. She absolutely held the family together, and allowed the five children to go on to much success and happiness in their own lives. Simply stated, Arlene was a strong woman. 

Mrs. Derleth’s favorite pastime for many years was playing bingo with her fellow K of C friends. She rarely missed a Monday bingo night. She also loved a good game of Scrabble, especially while visiting Denise and her family in Blythe, California. These games were known to last well into the wee hours of the morning. For many years, she enjoyed being an annual pass-holder at Disneyland, and she often visited the park a few times a week, particularly when her son Dean and his soon-to-be-wife Dawn performed in parades and other entertainment shows.

She loved to visit family, including many trips to Clovis to visit Don and his family, a place where many family holidays and celebrations were held. She was also never more thrilled than when she got the chance to trek to Texas to visit David and his family. Mrs. Derleth enjoyed many vacations with her kids and their families, highlighted by a Disney cruise with Dennis and his family, a cruise with Denise, her family and many extended family members and friends to celebrate Harry’s 80th birthday, and a few trips to Hawaii with Dean and his family.

Arlene was never more proud and happy than in her role as grandmother to 10 and great-grandmother to 16. Particularly in her younger driving years, she treated the kids to individual granny play-dates, often going to theme parks, movies and Disney-On-Ice shows. She loved each of them, and loved to shower them with time and attention.

Mrs. Derleth moved in with Dean and his wife Dawn and their growing family in 1999. Together, they moved to Claremont in 2000. While living in Claremont for the last 16 years, she was a fixture at the Claremont Little League fields, AYSO soccer fields, CHS football stadium, CHS Theater and every Inland Pacific Ballet production for the last six years. It was at these locations that she was bestowed her second nickname, “Granny D,” by her fellow spectators. Her attendance streak continued even after she was forced by a broken hip to move into the Sunrise assisted living facility in Claremont in 2014. She loved her time at Sunrise, including the care and attention shown to her by the staff, but she never missed a chance to venture out to a game or other production in town. At Sunrise, she was known for always cleaning her plate, though you could never get her to eat a mushroom. 

Mrs. Derleth’s family threw her many big birthday parties, the biggest of which was an 85th birthday celebration just last year. For that, her brother Bud and his wife Ann were brought in from New York as a surprise, as they had not seen each other in some time. The time they spent together that week, including a Thanksgiving feast, many hours looking at family pictures and a fun and nostalgic trip to Disneyland, was a much-cherished reunion of two loving siblings.

Arlene was preceded in death by her loving husband, Gerald “Chip” Derleth.  She is survived by her brother, Bud (Ann) Beikirch of Penfield, New York and her children: Don of Clovis, California, Denise (Paul) Hartman of Blythe, California, Dennis (Susie) Derleth of Henderson, Nevada, David (Tammy) Derleth of Saginaw, Texas and Dean (Dawn) Derleth of Claremont.

She also leaves her 10 grandchildren, Myra, Tammy, Kelly, Dustin, Dennis Jr., Jonathan, David, Gavin, Sam and Kennedy, 16 great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and other family and friends.

Services for Arlene were held at Todd Memorial Chapel in Claremont on December 1. She was laid to rest next to her beloved Chip on December 2 at Rose Hills Memorial Park.



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