Cover photo for Gerald Homer Derr's Obituary
Gerald Homer Derr Profile Photo
1934 Gerald 2023

Gerald Homer Derr

February 5, 1934 — December 10, 2023

Elk Grove, CA

Gerald H. Derr, retired Elk Grove Fire Chief, passed away peacefully on December 10th at the South Sacramento Kaiser Hospital.  Gerald leaves behind his beloved wife Elizabeth, his only son Wade, and his two grandsons, James and Aaron.
Gerald resided in Elk Grove his entire life.  He was born in 1934 to Homer and Ida Derr.  In his childhood, Gerald quickly became enamored with the fire department, as he rode to fires standing on the car seat next to his volunteer fireman father.  He also joined his father to help at the family business, J. M. Derr Lumber Company.
At age 15, Gerald became a volunteer fireman.  Thanks to his excellent grades, he was allowed to leave school to respond to fire calls.
Gerald earned a bachelor’s degree in art from Sacramento State College in 1956.  Following graduation, he spent two years teaching art at Elk Grove High School.
In 1957, at age 23, Gerald was promoted to Assistant Fire Chief.  Months later, due to his father’s failing health, he began full-time work at the lumber company, which was a large and prosperous business.  It included a hardware store and gift shop.  Gerald also performed his Assistant Fire Chief duties by working at the fire station on weekends and responding to emergencies day and night.  In addition to all this, he was a loving and devoted father to his son.
In 1969, Gerald’s dream came true when he was promoted to Fire Chief.  He did his best to continue to manage the lumber company by spending evenings there, but soon it became too much.  He sold his half of the business to his aunt, Jessie Mae Crump.  Gerald thrived as Fire Chief as Elk Grove and the fire department grew rapidly.
In 1985, in addition to his Fire Chief position, Gerald became the first General Manager of the newly-created Elk Grove Community Services District.
In 1986, Gerald was named Elk Grove’s Citizen of the Year.
Gerald retired from his Fire Chief/General Manager position in 1990, but performed the duties part-time until 1992.
In 1999, the Cosumnes Community Service District (formerly the Elk Grove C.S.D.) dedicated their new fire station 75 to Gerald.
During retirement, until 2008, Gerald continued to serve the Community Services District as a member of its Board of Directors.  Following his Board service, he enjoyed a peaceful retirement in his Laguna Creek home with his wife, Elizabeth.
Gerald was a tireless and heroic community servant.  He loved Elk Grove and its people.  He worked hard all his life, enjoying every day.  One could always depend on him for a hearty handshake, a smile, and a joke.  His boundless enthusiasm and love for the fire service never diminished.
Gerald’s contributions to his family, his community, and to firefighting will never be forgotten.
A memorial service will be held at Elk Grove East Lawn on December 27, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.  Guests may wear red in honor of Gerald and his fellow firefighters.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Sacramento Children’s Home (, or to Shriners Hospitals for Children (

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gerald Homer Derr, please visit our flower store.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

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Thursday, December 28, 2023

Private Family Burial

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