Derek W. Van Slyck ’79

Derek W. Van Slyck ’79 died September 20, 2018 in Plymouth, Massachusetts

(The following was provided by his family.)

Derek Wilder Van Slyck
July 31, 1956 – September 20, 2018

It is with great sadness that the family of Derek Van Slyck announces his passing on September 20, 2018. A private service was held at the Union Cemetery in Little Compton, Rhode Island. A gathering to celebrate his life will be held in Little Compton on July 20, 2019.

Derek was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Nicholas and Anita (Wilder) Van Slyck. The family lived in Dedham where Derek attended Nobles and Greenough School.  In high school, Derek was a twelve-time winner of varsity letters (in football, hockey, and lacrosse) and captained teams in all three sports. Along with his early success in sports, Derek was a gifted artist and exceptional jazz pianist. At Bowdoin College, Derek continued to play lacrosse and hockey while pursuing his love of art and music. He graduated magna cum laude in 1980, earning a degree in Visual Arts. After graduating, Derek was able to continue doing what he loved – creating art and playing music – until the time of his death. He played piano in multiple jazz ensembles for decades and produced hundreds of oil paintings and other works of art.

Derek had a playful sense of humor, was straightforward, kind and grateful. He enriched the lives of those he touched by simply being true to his creative spirit and unique character.

Derek leaves his mother, Anita Smith, of Little Compton, RI; his sister, Tena, and husband, Ted Hartwig, of College Station, TX; and his brother, Pieter, and wife, Marie Van Slyck, of Duxbury, MA. He is also survived by his half-sister, Jennifer, and husband, Carl Wieting, of Providence, RI, and step-siblings Brooks TotlebenSmith, Taylor Smith and wife, Michelle, Lann Welsh, Nathan Smith and wife, Natcha, and Margo Rush and husband, Kevin. He leaves his step-mother, Trudi Van Slyck of Cambridge, MA, and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews. He was predeceased by his father, Nicholas Van Slyck, and step-father, V. Carlisle Smith


1 Comments Derek W. Van Slyck ’79

  1. Dave Alpert

    I was so upset to see this. I looked up Derek’s name as I was reminded of him while watching a UVA mens lacrosse game on tv and working on my art. Derek was my classmate at Nobles. While I could never pretend to travel in the same circles as he did with regards to sports at Nobles, he and I were friendly competitors in the art studio. We took studio art from Leighton Bridge every year and would benefit from watching each other work .I was always envious of his ability to paint people . I focused on landscapes and I will never forget the day when I was working on an oil painting of boats on a European river and turned around to see Derek just sitting quietly watching me paint. “That’s pretty good.” he said in his trade mark quiet voice. I was stunned that he was watching me and complimentary to boot, because, although I became a good artist, I doubt that I ever attained the level of skill van Slyke had. How could ONE PERSON, be so good at so many things? I was always amazed at all that he could do in the art room and on the fields and ice at Nobles. I played on the lacrosse team with him as 3rd string middie but that was as close as I got to his greatness in sports. I particularly liked watching him play hockey. Wow, could he ever skate!
    Billy Joel said it best in his song” Only the Good Die Young”. Derek was good in everything he did it seems, but most importantly was a good and kind classmate at Nobles. So very sorry for his loss.


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