Graham Derzon-Supplee died on July 29, 2022, at the age of 23 of an accidental drowning. Graham loved the water, and when he could, he would grab his swim goggles, swim down deep and search about. He could stay underwater for a long time, and that was a skill that he practiced. Though it can’t be known for sure because no one was with him at the moment, it seems most likely that he was practicing that skill when he died.
Graham always pushed the edges of his knowledge and experiences. Wherever there were rocks or old logs to be found, Graham would flip them over to see what salamanders, snakes, or insects were there. As a 3-year-old, and as a 23-year-old, his curiosity led him to look everywhere, paying close attention, learning from all that he noticed. His interest in the natural world led him to pursue and receive a degree in organismal biology from Pitzer College in Claremont, California.
He grew to see people of all ages with the same curiosity, inviting little kids on nature walks and parents of his friends on hikes, probing them with questions, appreciating their wisdom, and celebrating their uniqueness. He was a volunteer with Circle of Friends at Bainbridge High School, and worked as a counselor for Bainbridge Parks and Recreation, as an assistant at
Hazel Creek Montessori, and as an academic tutor and drum teacher.
He loved holding babies and would exclaim, “Awww” whenever he saw one across the room. He engaged grandparents with familiarity and listened to them with interest. He said, “There are no boring people,” and he showed his respect for individuality by relating to each person in such a way that they could feel comfortable being themselves.
From an early age, Graham was emanating rhythm. From chopsticks on cooking pans to drumsticks on a full kit, Graham’s energy nearly boiled over when he played the
drums. This summer he was on fire with music, excited about making a go of it in LA in the fall. Friends and family were at his last concert the evening before he died. It felt like the beginning of something. Graham and his bandmates glowed with joy and energy that night.
Throughout his life, Graham was blessed by friends, teachers, adults and children, who helped him as he became the person he was meant to be. He was funny, quirky, intelligent, attentive, graceful, forgetful, beautiful, passionate, directionally-challenged, outdoorsy, the glue that held people together, the impetus for adventures and misadventures. These words do not do justice to the magnificent life he was creating, the love and joy he brought to so many, or the loss that is felt by us all.
Graham is survived by his mother and father, Robin Supplee and Mike Derzon; his brother Cory; his grandmother, Barbara Supplee; aunts and uncles Shelley Supplee, Pam and Rob Jiranek, Andrea Derzon, and Jim and Regina Derzon; and cousins Lander, Hobey, Glenna, Hayes, Jacob, Katya, Liz, Aleksi, Akseli, Alina, and Aki.
Contributions in memory of Graham can be made to the Bainbridge Island Special Needs Foundation/Stephen’s House, the Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy (ARC), or the Ocean Conservancy.