In memory of
Dersham, Arthur 2/23/1923 - 10/25/2019 Age 96, passed away peacefully with his immediate family at his side on Friday, October 25, 2019. Art was born February 23, 1923 in Adrian, Michigan, the son of Arthur and Mary Dersham Sr. He is survived by his daughters, Sharon (Paul) Diez, Sandy (David) Fike, and Sherry Brueger; six beloved grandchildren, Heidi (D.J.) Diez Monroe, Aaron (Kristen) Diez, Stephen (Chelsea) Fike, Jonathan Fike, Kelly and Colin Brueger; three great-grandchildren, Alex Diez, Audrey and Henry Fike; four step-great-grandchildren, Harrison, Josh, Ewan and Emily Monroe; brother Elwyn Dersham; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley (Clement) Dersham; sister, Iva (Dersham) Covert; and son-in-law, Michael Brueger. After graduating from Ann Arbor High School in 1942, he worked at Willow Run Airport building airplane wings. It was there that he met Keith Pettit, a lifelong friend and future best man. Art recalled first hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor when an usher stopped the movie playing at the Michigan Theater and announced the breaking news. In January 1943, he enlisted in the Army, spending months at training schools: first basic training (Florida), Airplane Mechanic School (Texas), Aerial Gunnery School (Arizona) and finally Combat Crew Training School (Oklahoma). Once his crew was assembled in September 1944, they were stationed in Eye, England as part of the 8th Air Force, 490th Bomb Group, 849 Squadron. He was assigned to a B-17 "Flying Fortress" as the ball turret gunner. Remarkably, the crew survived 27 bomb run missions over Germany. At 21, he had achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant; receiving an Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal for Air Combat over Rhineland and Central Europe. After the combat missions, he flew weather reconnaissance for the 55th Fighter Group, 862 Bomb Squadron until VE Day. He was honorably discharged in October 1945. Many years later, he joined his fellow bombardiers at reunions across the country. He was the last surviving member of his crew. Returning home after the war, he met his wife, Shirley on a blind date arranged by a friend at Ann Arbor's iconic Drake's Sandwich Shop. They married on August 8, 1947 at First United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor. They had 63 memorable years together. In those early years, he worked as a timekeeper for local manufacturer King-Seeley, where the first dash-mounted automotive gas gauges were invented. He also did contract work as a microscope repairman. In 1952, he joined Ann Arbor-based Argus Camera as a repairman, quickly learning the skill set on the job. His passion for Argus cameras endured as his knowledge base grew. When Argus moved to South Carolina in the early 1960's, he and small group of employees formed Huron Camera, an Argus-affiliated service center. Many years later, he attended conferences hosted by the Argus Collectors Group and Argus Museum. His knowledge and advice was often sought by camera enthusiasts. For more than 15 years, he also worked at H&H Distributing, a pet supply business owned by his brother-in-law and sister-in-law (Howard and Norma Weaver). His greatest source of joy came from his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Many happy moments were spent playing at the park, enjoying an ice cream cone, attending school concerts, fiddler gigs, watching soccer tournaments, tennis matches, basketball, hockey and football games. His energy (which was unmatched), endearing sense of humor and humility will be forever cherished by his family. Although he would never consider himself to be a hero, his family will always remember him as one. A memorial gathering will be held Thursday, November 7, 2019 from 5:30pm-8pm as well as Friday, November 8, from 4pm until the time of the memorial service at 5pm officiated by Rev. Tom Burdette with military honors. In lieu of flowers, please memorial donations may be made in his honor to one of these charities: Honor Flight (Box L-4016, Columbus, OH 43260-4016) or here https://www.honorflight.org/donate-now/ways-to-donate/ . Checks should be made payable to "Honors Flight" and a notation can be made on the check regarding "In Memory Of". University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center Kidney Cancer Program (Michigan Medicine, Office of Development and Alumni Relations, 1000 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 100, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-6815): https://victors.us/arthurcdershamjr . Checks should be made payable to "University of Michigan" and a notation can be made on the check regarding "In Memory Of".
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