Derrick J. Bey, accounting consultant who aced job interview while in a hospital for cancer treatment, dead at 55

He liked the flexibility of consulting, working at different times for Easterseals, the Chicago Public Schools, PepsiCo and Potbelly.

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Derrick J. Bey

Derrick J. Bey


Derrick J. Bey was in the hospital getting cancer treatment when he was recruited for a new job.

“He took off his hospital gown and put on a shirt and tie and did a job interview,” said his brother Greg.

After the Zoom call ended, his aunt Darlene Burns helped him get back into his gown.

From his hospital room, he landed an offer.

“He got it, stricken with cancer, in the hospital,” his brother said.

Mr. Bey, 55, died of complications from prostate cancer last month before he was able to start his new accounting position. 

Doing an interview while convalescing was typical of the Auburn Gresham resident’s determination, his family said.

“He was loyal and dependable,” his brother said.

“Some people in your lives are like a shooting star or lightning,” said his cousin Lee Bey, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist and editorial writer. “You remember the crazy things that they did and the funny things they said by the thousand. And some people are just solid like a rock. That was Derrick.”

He grew up in Harvey in a home that other kids loved to visit. It had a pool table in the basement and a big yard that could accommodate 75 relatives for a cookout. His TV used to ping-ping-ping because it was hooked up to a then-new video game: Space Invaders. 

His mother Essie “took us to the first shopping mall I’d ever been in, the Dixie Square Mall, to buy Derrick some Thom McAn shoes,” Lee Bey said. 

Essie Bey drove a Thunderbird, and his father Herman had Buick “Rivs” in orange, purple and lime-green. 

Lee Bey said that, when he and his cousin were kids, “We’d talk about the dreams we had and the cars we’d drive — we both wanted TransAms and Camaros — and how we’d get to race them when we got old.”

Mr. Bey attended Lowell grade school in Harvey and graduated from Thornridge High School in Dolton.

Gifted at math, “He was always having straight A’s all through elementary school and high school,” his brother said.

His friend Jonathan Patterson said young Derrick enjoyed rollerskating at The Rink, which was owned by relatives. Generations of skaters have glided around its floor doing “JB skating,” the smooth footwork that mimics singer James Brown.

Mr. Bey studied at Purdue University and Western Illinois University in Macomb before graduating from Chicago State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a concentration in accounting. He joined the fraternity Phi Beta Sigma.

He liked the flexibility of consulting, working at different times for Easterseals, the Chicago Public Schools, PepsiCo and Potbelly, his brother said. Despite his illness, he continued to work until April.

“He was always there” for his family, Lee Bey said, “even in treatment.”

Relatives said that, when they had problems, he listened. When they had success, he cheered them on.

“He loved to go to family events,” his brother said. “He loved cookouts.”

“He was just a solid, solid friend,” Patterson said. “Any time I called him and explained a situation to him, he would listen. He wouldn’t ever offer advice. He would say, ‘Have you thought about this?’ and let you come to your own conclusion. I knew Derrick 50 years, and we never had a cross word. He’s godfather to all three of my kids, best man at my wedding.”

Mr. Bey followed the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Raiders and the career of football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen.

He loved macaroni and cheese, especially when it was made by his aunt Lula Bey or his brother, who uses six kinds of cheese: Velveeta, sharp and mild cheddar, Parmesan, mozzarella and Colby jack.

“I would make a big tray,” his brother said. “Whatever was left, he would take home.”

In addition to his brother and aunt Darlene, Mr. Bey’s survivors include his sister Leslie Olive, aunts Carmen, Dorothy, Evonne and Gloria and uncle Larry. Services have been held.

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