A Thing
The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

June 12, 2023 • Issue 23:06:01

In memoriam Derek Vowels

The Green Sheet, the Southeast Acquirers Association, and numerous friends and payments industry colleagues of Derek Jason Vowels shared fond memories of him when word spread of his passing on May 11, 2023. He is particularly remembered for his team spirit, humor, boundless enthusiasm and numerous contributions to the payments fold.

Danielle Thorpe, former assistant vice president of marketing and media partnerships for The Green Sheet, mentioned that Derek had helped her navigate the vast payments ecosystem when she was new to the industry. "I feel very blessed and fortunate to have met Derek when I was so new to the industry," she said. "We first met at a tradeshow and from that moment on, we were just connected." Thorpe also recalled his many funny sayings, noting that she and Kate Gillespie, CEO at The Green Sheet, memorialized some of them on a bracelet made especially for him.

"Derek Vowels. We wouldn’t venture to put into words the extraordinary person he was," Impact PaySystem's Dee and Emily Karawadra shared. "The news truly shocked us and immediately regret set in. We just didn’t have enough time with him! He was the greatest friend who shared with us his life and we shared ours! He was the energy in every room he was present in. We miss him terribly. Can’t imagine SEAA without him.

We will miss his calls, we will miss his voice, we will miss his laugh, and most of all we will miss his love. No doubt about it: he will be in attendance at this year's SEAA conference. He championed the association and the members. Grab a glass of Prosecco and raise it to the heavens. We love you, Derek!"

Known as much for his generosity and wit as his industry knowledge, Vowels was born on June 1, 1973, in Brandenburg, Ky. A Western Kentucky University graduate, he studied journalism in college and went on to use his storytelling skills at NPC, where he worked for 25 years, and other leading payments enterprises, including Bank of America, Planet Payment, TSYS and Aliaswire.

"We shared so many of the same passions," Audrey Blackmon, vice president of i2c Inc., recalled. "Religion, politics, cooking, animals, interior decorating, family values—we could talk about anything. Derek and I would fight and make up like family. The love was always there in our 16+ years of friendship. He would always be the one to call me first after one of our disagreements. 'Hey Sugar,' he'd say and my heart would melt. One of my fondest memories was recently.

I lost my sister, and he called me after the funeral to check on me, like we would do for each other. Like him, he knew my family was very important to me. He wanted to see how I was doing after the funeral. But most of all, he wanted to hear about the preparation, decor and all of the 'tea' (messy behavior). I shared one detail that meant a lot: we had given attendees herb seeds to plant when they returned home. Derek quickly said he wanted to plant some of my sister's seeds in his garden.

He loved to garden and was getting ready to plant his herb garden. Through the years, he had heard so much about my sister's chef career that he felt he knew her. It warmed my heart to hear him speak of the memories I had shared with him. It reminded me of our long and deep relationship.

'No matter what, you are my big sister,' he would say Rest in peace, my brother. May your garden continue to grow forever."

In addition to being an unforgettable friend to so many, Derek Vowels was a devoted husband to David Shaver, whom he married in 2016. He was also a gifted chef and gardener, as well as an animal welfare advocate who brought best-in-class negotiating skills and planning expertise to the Southeast Acquirers Association, where he helped plan successful events for more than 16 years. He joined the association's Advisory Committee in 2007 and Board of Directors in 2013. His obituary is available at www.fosterfh.com/obituary/Derek-Vowels. end of article

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

Prev Next
A Thing