Bruce Derbyshire MD

July 17, 1928July 11, 2020

Dr. Bruce Derbyshire passed away peacefully on July 11, 2020 — just a few days short of his 92nd birthday.

Born July 17, 1928, and raised in Fall River, Bruce attended Durfee High School, graduating from the Moses Brown School and then Yale University. He studied medicine at Boston University and--during a year abroad at the University of Edinburgh--he met the Scottish lass and love of his life, Elizabeth Todd, and they were married for 65 years. After an internship at the University of Rochester and a residency at Vanderbilt University, he returned to Fall River to establish his medical practice as an orthopedic surgeon. He and Elizabeth settled in Swansea, MA to raise their five children.

Bruce embodied the spirit of life in its fullest sense.

He loved nothing more than to make new friends and to connect people with one another. Through his medical practice, every day was a new opportunity to help people and make the world a better place. His skill as a surgeon was only exceeded by his bedside manner. He remembered all of his patients and they remembered him. When mentioning his name in Fall River and beyond, you would often hear, “he fixed my arm when I was 10 years old!”

In 1976 Bruce and Elizabeth moved to Swans Way, their home in Westport Harbor. He had many passions, including a daily swim in the ocean and a round of golf at The Fall River Country Club or the Acoaxet Club. The self-proclaimed “Greatest Putter in New England” was proud of his hole in one and even more proud of his eagle on the difficult third hole at Acoaxet. He engaged in the game with a sense of humor while remaining fiercely competitive over every $1.00 press bet.

Bruce loved to read and was an avid collector of trivia and factoids. His memory was astonishing. It was a treasury of arcane yet fascinating knowledge, which he was always eager to share. He put this to use by creating a chest of memorabilia for each grandchild to open on their 21st birthday. His thoughtfulness knew no bounds.

And Bruce loved the people of Fall River. There was no topic, person, place, or thing that he could not find a way to connect to this city he loved. For good reason, he was known by his family and friends as “Mr. Fall River.”

Bruce specifically asked to keep his obituary short and only mention that he was a bonesetter from Fall River who loved his family, friends, and profession. He was so much more than that. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

He is survived by his five children, their spouses and ten grandchildren: David Derbyshire and Jason Jacobs; Ralph and Heidi Derbyshire and their children Graham, Hanna, and Adhieu; Richard and Betty Derbyshire and their sons Ralph and Andrew; Peter and Stephanie Derbyshire and their children Myles and Lily; and John and Mary (Derbyshire) Petty and their children Gordon, Eliza, and Liam.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the NAACP, an organization Bruce supported for more than 50 years. You can do so in Bruce’s name by contacting his daughter Mary at

We will hold a celebration in honor of Bruce’s life when circumstances allow.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Bruce Derbyshire MD

have a memory or condolence to add?

Muriel Cote

July 25, 2020

My deepest sympathy to the Dr. D family. I was a surgical scrub for many years at Union Hospital/Charlton Memorial Hospital and remember being on the ortho team and being with Dr. D doing the first knee arthroscopy in the city. It was an honor and pleasure to work with such a great man. Thank you Dr. D for the great memories I have of you and I always remember the great parties you use to host. God Bless.

Bill Marshall

July 24, 2020

My memory of Dr. Derbyshire is of him as a presence. I knew the family when they were building the first addition to their house in Acoaxit.
My only specific memory is meaningless and I don't know why I have it: His birthday, 1972. Mary gave him a Lucite paperweight in the shape of a rectangular block. Encased in it were small flowers, leaves, a blade or two of grass, and a moth.
Dr. Derbyshire unwrapped it.
"Poor moth," he said.
Mary was thrilled to hear this because it had been exactly what she'd said.

Kathi Duffy-Thorpe

July 20, 2020

My deepest sympathy to family and friends of Dr. Derbyshire ... I lived in Swansea and broke my finger when I was 14. Dr. Derbyshire re-set my finger with calmness and kindness. Years later I would see him on a regular basis when I worked at Elephant Rock Beach Club where he was always smiling and pleasant ... he did love to swim every day!
He will be missed ...

Kevin O'Brien

July 19, 2020

When I came to Fall River as a new doc in the early '70's, Bruce was very kind and the font of all knowledge in helping me get oriented. We will all miss him. He led a good life and left this world better for his having been here.

Anne Snyder

July 17, 2020

My last lovely memory of Bruce was on the Acoaxet Club pro-shop porch where he shared memories of the Stevens family and my grandfather's (Isreal Brayton) role as their lawyer.
He also related that he or his family had the opportunity to buy land from the Stevens' but regretfully past it up. Seems like he was in contention for Mr. Swansea too.

William E. O'CONNOR,Jr.

July 16, 2020

Always pleasant memories from a professional colleague that I first met in 1986 through my associate. Then I met several family members and it was always fine experiences. I will miss him and his conversation. My sincere condolences to the entire family.

Jim Rogers

July 15, 2020

For many years I had the privilege of seeing Bruce when he came into my store on North Main Street in the morning. I always engaged in a spirited and interesting conversation that varied from day to day. He was very sociable and nice to all my fellow customers when he came into my store. He was a good man and I am honored to have known him.
Jim Rogers
Fall River, MA

Charles Fetherston

July 15, 2020

We have lost a very good and sincere gentleman who had a lovely sense of humour I speak from many years of knowing him because he married my cousin, Elizabeth who was a lovely girl,woman,wife and Mother, we, all of this side of the family miss them both and send our heart felt condolences to all the family. God bless you all at this terrible time. Charlie Fetherston and family.

Gren blackall

July 15, 2020

Hello Derbyshire family,

Many times in my life I have wondered at the high quality of the Derbyshire family. Ralph and Mary, you influenced me for the better. I lived summers near you for my childhood starting at 11. You guys, and your great parents, held genuine interest in others, even in response to the petty childhood issues of a young boy. Your dad and mom had to be behind that. Your mom made me melt into her kind compassion. Your dad joked with me all the time, but not like an older guy might joke with a younger person. He joked like we were old friends. I never experienced his medical advice or bonesetting but I did feel his genuine energy. I asked him casually once about what he was up to besides doctoring and he told me about a cutting tool he developed that would revolutionize orthopedic surgery. Suddenly I saw him as a genius engineer, on top of everything else. I felt proud that he gave me the information like he would a fellow physician. I asked a question, and I walked away a better person. Not many people can or want to do that. Back to my initial comments, he must be one of the many reasons your family turned out as you did. You, and all of us who knew Bruce, will have that forever. Take care my friends. As written in Desiderata, “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. ....With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” Gren

Chuck Spencer

July 14, 2020

I didn't know Bruce as a Dr. but the dear father and father in law of Mary Derbyshire and John Petty. We loved to visit Mary and John wherever they lived. When my wife Millie and I got married we visited them in Dublin, Ireland, then they moved to Skokie, IL, then Lincoln, MA but when they moved to Rhode Island, I met Mr. and Mrs. Derbyshire ( Millie had met them years before). They had the most beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean outside of their giant picture window. They were easy to fall in love with. Filled with intelligent and interesting conversation, we so enjoyed the time we spent with them. Bruce taught us about single malt scotch and to this day, when ever I'm drinking good scotch I think of him. We know Mary, John and their children are hurting and miss these two wonderful people. Millie and I send lots of love to the five of them and everyone who knew the Derbyshires.


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