Elva Y. Derby

December 15, 1927 - March 22, 2021
Fri, 05/21/2021 - 12:15pm

Elva Yvonne Derby (Harvey), age 93, passed away on her beloved island on March 22, 2021. Elva was born December 15, 1927 on Block Island to Earl and Mary Harvey (Primrose). When she was 13 her family moved to East Providence, R.I. She worked as an elevator operator at the Providence Biltmore, which is where she met Henry (Hank) Shinners. They married in 1946, eventually moving to Massachusetts to start a family. Although they eventually divorced, she and Hank remained good friends, and set a wonderful example for their two daughters. Elva was also a dedicated music fan, and country and Big Band music was always playing in their home. Her daughters credit her with their own love of music.
Throughout her years in Massachusetts, Elva always longed to move back to Block Island. In 1969 Elva married Ralph Derby of Wilmington, Mass, and in April of 1978, as Elva would often say, “he brought me home.” She was given a wonderful platform to share her love for the island as tourist counselor for the Block Island Chamber of Commerce, a position she held for over 30 years.
Elva had an active social life on Block Island before the pandemic and illness kept her at home. She was an avid quilter, creating family heirlooms while enjoying the company of the island quilting group. She was a regular guest at the Second Wind Luncheon,
the Soup Group, and loved playing Mexican Train with her friends. When at home, she always greeted her guests with a smile and a welcome.
Elva loved animals and supported a feral cat colony outside her home for years, as well as living with many pet cats throughout her long life.
She is preceded in death by her infant son James Shinners, her sister, Lorraine Turgeon, and her husband, Ralph Derby. She is survived by her two daughters, Kathleen and Kelly Shinners, as well as eight grandchildren: Jonathan McCusker, Patrick McCusker, Zachary Samsel, Veronica Samsel-Scully, Mary Waring, Caleb Roosa, Hannah Roosa, and Isaac Roosa, and nine great-grandchildren: Lincoln McCusker, Amelia Roosa, William and John Samsel, Elliot Scully, and Juliana, Mia, Aria, and Neo
As Elva said, “When I go, don’t sit around in sadness. Have a party, raise a glass, and remember the good times.” The family plans to honor her request with a celebration of her life in the fall, date and time to be determined.
Donations in Elva’s memory may be made to The Mary D. Fund, the Block Island Medical Center, and the Block Island Rescue Squad.