Derrick Fudge died of gunshot wounds in the arms of his son, and Saturday saw his family and friends lovingly embracing his life’s memories.
Fudge, 57, was a Springfield resident and one of nine people shot and killed by Connor Betts, 24, of Bellbrook in the early morning of Aug. 4 in Dayton’s Oregon District. Betts was killed by police within a minute of the incident starting.
And earlier Saturday, many attended the burial services of another victim of the shooting, Saeed Saleh.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland and Dayton Mayor Whaley are among the hundreds in attendance for Fudge’s service at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Springfield.
Family members described him as a loving family man, passionate about those he cared for and devoted to helping the needy through collecting donations for the Salvation Army during Christmas season.
An avid fisherman, Fudge also loved to cook, play cards and work at painting houses.
Born in Buffalo, New York the long-time Springfield resident had attended the former Springfield South High School.
He is survived by one son, Dion (Donita) Green; one granddaughter, Niara Green; two sisters, Sherrie Fudge-Galloway and Twyla (Randy) Southall; three brothers, Roderick Fudge, Leonard Fudge and Jeffrey Fudge and a host of other relatives.
Twyla Southall said Saturday that “this has been a hard day, very emotional and very taxing to see my family collectively go through this.”
“He was a kind, gentle giant,” she said of her brother.
She told of Fudge receiving a gift card for his work with the Salvation Army as a Christmas-time bell ringer, outside collecting money for the charity. When a woman told Fudge she needed money to buy medicine, he handed over his gift card to her.
“He didn’t have a lot, but he’d give you what he had,” she said of Fudge and his work with the Salvation Army.
The large turnout, including state and city officials, “does help ease the pain,” Southall said.
Green said his father often spoke of his willingness to die for his boy. He previously told this news outlet that may have played out as he suspected the bullets fired in his direction hit his father instead.
He cradled Fudge’s wounded body in the tumultuous minutes after the mass shooting, watching his father die.
“My dad was a great person. Fun, always a good time, make you laugh and he’ll always be there for your when you need help,” Green said.
In the funeral’s program Fudge’s family wrote: “Your prayers, calls, visits, flowers, cards, food and other expressions of love have truly helped get us through this difficult time.”