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Memorial recital for Derek Francis

A memorial recital will be given by Alyssa Campbell in memory of Derek Francis on Sat. May 25 at 2 p.m. at the First Christian Reformed Church

1444 Maryland Grosse Pointe Park.

Derek Arthur Francis

Derek Arthur Francis, 95, passed away at home Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, surrounded by his children and two of his wonderful caregivers.

Derek was born May 7, 1928, in London, England, to a musical family. He was raised in Billericay, Essex, England. He is survived by his son, Mark; daughter, Susanna (Walter); granddaughter, Emma; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He began his life in music at the age of 5 in the church choir. As a boy, he pedalled his bicycle across fields, started to learn violin from his grandfather at the age of 10, watched WWII aerial dogfights and went to Brentwood School.

After National Service, he attended the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Royal Conservatory of Music of Brussels and then played in particular with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Opera at Covent Garden.

He married Nora (nee Richards) from Winnipeg, Canada and their son Mark was born in London. They moved to Jamaica where Derek taught music at the University in Kingston and where their daughter Susanna was born. After a single season with the Dallas Symphony, Derek moved the family to Detroit and began his long career with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Music Performance from the University of Michigan.

He also played with several community orchestras, his favorite being the Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra where he was a long time concertmaster. He taught hundreds of violin and viola students at Schoolcraft College, Ypsilanti College, Oakland University and privately in his home. He was respected by his colleagues, many of whom became close friends. His students so appreciated that he expected the best from them, as he demanded of himself.

With his second adored wife Pam, a nurse and violist, they shared more than 20 happy years before she predeceased him. He loved swimming, supporting wildlife (especially elephants), playing bridge, making fine wooden furniture and tending to his koi pond.

His family wishes to thank his numerous caregivers, especially Ian Aubert, Veronica and Jessie.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra, or the African Wildlife Foundation,   A recital in his honor will be held May 25 at 2 p.m.