Almost two weeks ago, a well-known gentleman in our performance boat community passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer—and today would have been his 53rd birthday, which is why I’d like to wish the self-employed boat hauler and man of many smiles, Derek McCormick, a happy heavenly birthday. I know I’m not the only one who would have liked to wish Derek a happy 53rd birthday on Facebook today and see him “like” it, but this will have to suffice.
Although he was from Illinois and spent much of his time there, Derek McCormick saw some beautiful parts of the country, including Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border, while hauling performance boats around. Photo by Jimmy Biro
Here’s the thing, if you met Derek McCormick, you likely never forgot Derek McCormick, the Illinois native who passed away on October 4 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. That’s because his smile was contagious and it was likely that the reason you met him is because he was lending you a hand around the dock or at the launch ramp.
McCormick, who married Melissa Gust in 2019 and was the son of Mary Frazier and the late Thomas McCormick, loved boats, motorcycles, friends and family. He is survided by three daughters—Alyssa, Alexis and Myranda—a grandchild, Windlyn Hippen, a brother, Kevin McCormick (Barbie), and two sisters, Kelly McCormick and Lisa McCormick.
“Derek always had a smile on his face and he was willing to help anyone whether he was working for them or not,” said Georgia performance boater John Woodruff, who met McCormick through MTI since he owns a well-known 48-foot cat named Windship. “Derek was always ready, willing and able to lend a hand. When I helped him get into the Mayo Clinic about eight years ago, it saved his life. I don’t remember exactly how many lymph nodes they removed but it was dozens and he kept a positive attitude the whole time. And this is how humble he was—the night we did the fundraiser for him at Super Cat Fest to help with his expenses while he recovered and couldn’t work, Derek wouldn’t come. He was there but couldn’t bring himself to come to the dinner. He was almost embarrassed that we were trying to raise money for him.”
Derek McCormick was all smiles when hauling a boat for a customer.
Randy Scism, who founded MTI in Wentzville, Mo., was saddened by the loss, calling Derek a big part of the MTI team.
“First of all, our thoughts and prayers are with Derek’s family,” Scism said. “He was always a big help to us. He helped us on the race teams, he helped with boat deliveries and he took care of some of our clients. He was a good guy; such a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, always smiling. I’ll never forget one of our last dinners with Derek in Key West. He said something about the food and being ‘me-so-happy’ with his meal, so we started calling him Me So Happy and it stuck.”
I didn’t know McCormick nearly as well as many people in the performance boat community, but I still considered him a friend because it didn’t matter where I ran into him—Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, Lake Lanier in Georgia or Lake Powell in Arizona—he always went out of his way to say hello. And here are a few more comments I read on Facebook that prove my opinion of him is pretty spot-on.
“Heart-breaking—Derek was such a great guy and will be missed by many,” said Tristan Garvin of Missouri.
“RIP Derek—we had a lot of great times together and he was definitely a guy who would do anything for anyone…Godspeed my friend,” Randy Sweers of Florida.
“Derek was great and funny—he set us up for Key west races and was awesome,” Bruce Bullock of Texas.
For the last week and a half, the messages on Facebook and on his obituary tribute wall have poured in from friends, family and many members of Derek’s performance boat community he loved so much.
“I was sorry to hear about Derek—he was 100 percent a great guy,” said Tim Gallagher of Florida, who worked extensively with McCormick during his time at MTI. “He was everyone’s friend. I spent a lot of time with Derek when I worked at MTI—we went to more poker runs, boat deliveries and boat shows than I can count. We delivered some amazing boats and got to see some great things along the way. RIP buddy.”