He will be remembered as a beloved minister, friend to many, passionate actor and director, community supporter, and lover of the outdoors.
In online comments following news of Derek Shelly’s sudden death on November 11, he was described as kind and gentle, caring, and full of life. Several said that his death will be a huge loss for this community.
Many knew him in his role as pastor at Trinity United Church, where the Rev. S. Derek Shelly served the congregation from 2003 until he retired in 2018, 40 years after being ordained. He had been a minister in other parts of Ontario and in Nova Scotia previously, and before that was a teacher.
His support for the Huntsville community extended beyond the church walls. He was a mainstay in Huntsville’s community theatre scene and was a passionate advocate for end-of-life care.
In a previous conversation with Doppler’s Laura MacLean, he said, “What makes any community is the people… Even when we disagree, whether it be about politics or whatever, there’s still a sense that you’re a part of this community. It’s a wonderful thing and I’ve felt it right from the get-go. And despite any differences we might have, the bottom line is we are a community. We’re supportive and caring for each other. It’s a big town but a small town with that feeling.”
He is survived by his children Derek (Ruth Dunley), Aaron (Amanda Van Bommel), and Keri-Lynn; his grandchildren Olivia, Regin, Grace, Rose, Mekenna, and Maura; his lifelong friend and mother of his children, Heather Fraser; and his siblings Ted, Marie, John, and Fred and their families. He is predeceased by his parents Sidney and Kathleen (Mathias), and his brother Brian.
A Memorial Service will be held at Trinity United Church, 33 Main Street East, Huntsville on Saturday, November 30, 2019 at 1 p.m. A reception will follow in Trinity Hall.
In lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful for donations to Hospice Huntsville or the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. In Derek’s memory, his family also encourages everyone to support local community theatre. Please go to see a play (or several) and think of him.
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