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Neighborhoods: Old Town

A MAN TO REMEMBER - Derry Bancroft left us forever this unforgiving winter. No he didn't. Can't happen. Won't happen. He wouldn't do this to us so soon.

But he did. This elegant gentleman won't be back anytime soon.

His full name is Frederic Wolcott Bancroft. But to his Old Town friends and everyone else he knew he was always known as Derry. He died earlier this month. He died quietly in his Old Town home, a departure so quiet that even his dearest didn't know for hours.

Mercifully, illness didn't drag on as so often happens. The other day he had even discussed a long-delayed lunch with a friend, who is writing this.

But even this gentle but strong-willed man couldn't delay this one.

Derry's funeral drew a crowd to St. Paul's Episcopal Church on S. Pitt Street. So did his reception at the church's Norton Hall next door. Derry probably stood in a corner of the hall, sipping a touch (make that a few touches) of his favorite libation.

Derry knew the turf. He and his beloved Ellen for many years lived next door to the church. An easy stroll on an Old Town Sunday. Particularly if you were shrugging off a nip of the bud. I told you earlier that Norton Hall was bristling with food and drink — lots of both — at Derry's funeral.

Here's a brief and nowhere near complete look at some of the folks who bid Derry farewell: Anita Gilstrap, Judy Willard, Ben and Diane Anderson, Bob and Norma Gants, Stew and Loti Dunn, Patsy Ticer, Kay Frances Dolan, Rowe and Fritz Kroesen, Kirk Bowen, Arlene Mahon, Lenore Fein, Paula Tosini, Arnold Forte, Nancy Leisch, Audry Marcoe, Roberto and Maria Ramaciotti, Charles Ablard, Merney and Arthur Kelleher, and Sincerria Elliott.

Is it OK to say that everybody who came to say goodbye had a good time? Better be, because I just did. Why is it that Episcopalians have an unfailing know-how to make a funeral a party? A good time? A celebration? A nice place to be?

A disclosure: I'm married to one of them and it generally works out fine.