Elizabeth Addison Derbyshire, Westport

Posted 2/7/20

Elizabeth Addison Derbyshire, wife of Dr. Bruce Derbyshire, passed away peacefully Sunday, January 26, 2020, at the Steere House nursing home in Providence.

Born in Scotland on February 11, 1931, …

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Elizabeth Addison Derbyshire, Westport


Elizabeth Addison Derbyshire, wife of Dr. Bruce Derbyshire, passed away peacefully Sunday, January 26, 2020, at the Steere House nursing home in Providence.

Born in Scotland on February 11, 1931, she spent her early years in East Bengal, India, where her father managed a jute mill. Her life there was interesting and exciting. She would later tell stories of shaking scorpions out of her shoes in the morning, having her school bus stopped by an eight-foot tiger walking down the middle of the road, participating in wild boar drills in the Indian forest, and—while sailing back to Scotland during World War II—having her ship followed by a German U-boat.

In 1948 she returned to her beloved Scotland where she became the secretary to the Royal Scottish Dance Society. In 1953 she met Bruce Derbyshire of Fall River, who was a visiting medical student at Edinburgh University. It was love at first sight. Bruce returned to the States after his studies and after a full year apart they were married on June 2, 1954, in Edinburgh.  They sailed back to the US on a whiskey freighter. 

Their marriage was one of the great romances. After living in Rochester, NY, and Nashville, Tenn., they eventually settled in Swansea, Mass., to raise their five children. In 1976 they moved to Westport Harbor, where they have lived ever since. 

Elizabeth loved the theater, the arts, and music—particularly the opera. She was very active in the Little Theater of Fall River and was the President there for several years. She also ran the Children’s Theater of Fall River.

Her generosity was immense. She served at the United Congregational Church in Little Compton in many capacities, including the Shawl Ministry and management of the annual church fair. In addition, she served as a hospice worker and on Westport’s Council on Aging.

She and Bruce explored the world but no trip surpassed her return visits to Scotland. There she had loads of cousins, aunts, and uncles. They even took all of their grandchildren to her homeland to explore the hills and castles.

Elizabeth loved the outdoors. She was a devoted gardener, with enormous beds of daylilies, exotic poppies, and even a Monkey Puzzle tree. She knew her plants by their Latin names. She loved to walk the beach with her family, friends, and faithful dog companions, Wendy, Abby, James, Betsy, Chester, and Buddy. Her collection of sea glass fills multiple buckets.

She was an exceptional knitter and seamstress, and always had a few projects on her needles. Her children and grandchildren have drawers full of Nana’s gorgeous sweaters and socks.

Elizabeth was deeply loved by all who knew her. She was an exceptional mother and grandmother who we will miss deeply. She is survived by Dr. Bruce Derbyshire, her five children and their spouses: David Derbyshire and Jason Jacobs; Ralph and Heidi Derbyshire and their children Graham, Hanna, and Adhieu; Richard and Betty Derbyshire and their sons Ralph and Andrew; Peter and Stephanie Derbyshire and their children Myles and Lily; and John and Mary (Derbyshire) Petty and their children Gordon, Eliza, and Liam.

We are grateful to have been part of her strong, giving, and beautiful life.

A service celebrating her life will be at the United Congregational Church, 1 Commons, Little Compton, on Saturday, February 22, at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, Elizabeth asked that donations be made to support local residents who are in need. Please send donations to the United Congregational Church with a note in the memo line stating, “Minister’s Discretionary Fund.”

Arrangements are in the care of Waring-Sullivan Home at Cherry Place, Swansea. For tributes www.waring-sullivan.com

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.