Smith, a former sub-editor on the Coventry Evening Telegraph and the
Halifax Evening Courier, has died after losing a two-year battle with
motor neurone disease. He was 65.
Throughout his career as a
features and news sub, Derek built up a reputation for flair and
design, always embracing the latest in computer technology with the
enthusiasm that was the hallmark of everything he did.
and colleagues who packed his humanist funeral service at Park Hall
Crematorium in Elland, West Yorkshire, remembered particularly his
kindness and patience in helping young journalists wherever he worked.
had taken early retirement but had returned to work part-time with the
Evening Courier, Todmorden News and until last year, the Brighouse
Echo. And up to only three weeks before his death he was still using
his skills to design a newsletter for the Yorkshire Dales branch of the
Motor Neurone Disease Association. Derek was born in Birmingham and
secured his first job in journalism as a copy runner on the Birmingham
Post and Mail. He became a sub-editor and worked on several papers in
Birmingham before joining the Coventry Evening Telegraph features
He became a production editor in Somerset with South
West Counties Newspapers before moving to the Yorkshire Post and the
Evening Courier in the 1970s.
A keen tennis player until he was
struck by illness, in recent months Derek became wheelchair-bound, but
still managed to keep as active as his illness would allow.
wife Janet, whom he met in Coventry where she was women’s editor on the
Evening Telegraph, said: “He never lost his sense of humour.
being somebody who rode a motorbike I thought it would be awful for him
to have a wheelchair, but to him they were still wheels and he used to
tear around Halifax.”
Derek never did anything by halves and
approached work and his hobbies with a passion. He shared a love of
hunting bargains with classical music, and had amassed a collection of
more than 7,000 CDs at their home in Victoria Road, Elland. Friends at
his funeral recalled affectionately that he had probably not paid full
price for any of them.
“He had a wide knowledge of classical music and it was a major passion in his life,” said Janet.
The couple and their two daughters Amy, 18, and Kate, 15, last year organised a walk from their home that raised £2,000 for MND.
in September Amy climbed 9,000-foot Mount Olympus in a challenge that
raised more than £2,600 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Derek also leaves two sons from his first marriage, Matthew and Andrew.