(Sunday - December 27, 2020) - Jeffrey Robert DeRidder, age 78, of Breitung Township, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, December 26 and drove off to that great racetrack in the sky. Jeff was born July 15, 1942 in Norway, to the late Joseph and Lucille (Dollinger) DeRidder. After his father was killed in action in WWII, he attended elementary schools in Norway and Iron Mountain before moving to Chicago with his mother, a professional singer, for several years. He spent summers in Iron Mountain working in his grandmother's restaurant, the Casa Loma, and graduated from Iron Mountain High School in 1960. He studied mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University for two years but later transferred to Northern Michigan University where he obtained a degree in Math and Physics. He was employed by Lake Shore for many years, followed by Cable Constructors, Inc. (CCI), and IMECO before officially retiring in 2012. From 1987 to 2002 he owned and operated Miller Floral with his wife, Jacalyn, who preceded him in death in 2000. His ability to view situations objectively made him ideal for the position as volunteer mediator for Dickinson County Courts from 2004 to 2015.

Jeff believed in community participation and was involved in many organizations including Rotary Club of Iron Mountain Kingsford for 32 years, Dickinson County Planning Commission for 20 years, Board of Directors of the former Crystal Lake Community Center for 36 years, Just Cruizin' Car Club, Dickinson County Racing Association, and was an umpire for girls' high school volleyball and the women's league. With his exceptional voice and vast knowledge of vehicles of all types, Jeff was frequently called upon to announce at car shows, stock car races, truck & tractor pulling contests, and mud runs. He also provided a rich bass voice to several church choirs and Dickinson County Community Chorus.

Also known as The Car Guy, Jeff purchased his first car at 14, a 1936 Ford Coupe, and later drag-raced at strips throughout the Upper Midwest. In retirement, he hunted for "barn finds" for gear-head friends or to restore for himself.

Never without a handy phrase or word of advice, Jeff's favorites were "Don't criticize, condemn, or complain," and "Dads can do anything," until we pointed out he couldn't think of anything he couldn't do. He greeted everyone with a big, cheerful smile and was kind and attentive - unless you interrupted the 5 o'clock news or a Packers' game. He loved Clint Eastwood, Paul Harvey, racquetball, telling bad jokes, playing tricks on unsuspecting victims, and the Kentucky Derby. He hated Brussels sprouts and drivers who hog the left lane. He was one of the few men in the Upper Peninsula who didn't go to hunting camp because he couldn't bear the thought of killing an animal, except for the chipmunks that nested in his old cars. Jeff had a soft spot for pets and was never without at least one cat or dog.

Having visited every custard stand and bakery in a 5-state area, Jeff had an insatiable sweet tooth and reluctantly leaves behind 4 pounds of fudge, 3 dozen raspberry croissants, 2 gallons of chocolate syrup, and a multitude of additional treats that may prove helpful during the next pandemic.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by approximately 13 dogs, 11 cats, an alligator, both kidneys, and a 1961 Tempest.

Jeff's colorful legacy will live on through his wife, Barbara, brothers Ted Seymour of California and Steven Seymour (Rita Anderson) of Illinois, daughters Dacia DeRidder of Illinois and Jayna (Keith) Huotari of Iron Mountain and their mother, Dr. Rena Richtig, nephew Steve Seymour, niece April Seymour, grandsons James Ashbacher, Maxwell Wagnitz, Joey Ashbacher, and Mattson Hurter, great-grandchildren Evelyn and Aiden Ashbacher, and stepchildren Whitney Hein, Rhonda (Mark) LeSage, Steven (Diane) Applin, Jill (Adam) Lyon, and their families.

A celebration of the man, the myth, the legend will be held Wednesday, December 30 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Iron Mountain. Services will follow at 12:00 PM with Rev. Paul Strom officiating. Masks are required. Burial will be in Iron Mountain Cemetery Park.

Condolences to the family of Jeff DeRidder may be expressed online at:
www.ernashfuneralhomes.com

The family has entrusted the Erickson-Rochon & Nash Funeral Home with the arrangements.

 







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