Derek Stephen Yanes, 46 years old, wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. My brother watched from the sidelines, the launchpad, and from the Florida skies near Cape Canaveral. He was born with a condition called Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia or CAH. While he could not qualify medically as an astronaut during life, Celestis is giving him a chance to achieve this dream!
As a child, our dad would take Derek to hobby shops and find the most intricate rockets to build together. At first, they had large snap together models of fuselages, nose cones, oxidizers, fins. But later, the pieces were tinier, more precise and required glue. His passion was fueled for aeronautics, astronomy and space. Together they would spend weeks on a project and then drive to an open field to launch them – oftentimes connecting to car batteries and sacrificing their hard work for a mini firework show in the sky. Rocket pieces succumbing to gravity and scattered all over the grass, but the mission was a success and off to the hobby shop for the next kit. As an adult, Derek’s love for putting things together played out in his career. From installing kitchens at Outback, to fixing the cooling systems at Amalie Area and Morton Plant Hospital, he could fix just about anything.
Derek loved his nieces (Brianna and Miranda) and nephew (Tony). They will always remember the space shuttle stories, the space quizzes and physics lessons. He was the ultimate “fun-cle”. They remember Derek’s continued annoyance of asking questions about space. He would hijack the TV with constant stalking of the NASA channel. He peppered them with space trivia and lessons about nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen…and any other “gen” used to get a rocket launched.
And now my little brother, you are on a new journey. A new mission far beyond the gravity pull of this earth. Our final tribute to your life with us on Earth, for this miniscule amount of time, will lead to this Space Memorial in your honor. What your earthly body could not do, your Mission Control is taking you and your dream to Cape Canaveral and you will become a heavenly astronaut.
In your honor, we have had a star named in your memory. In the evenings, when their world is the darkest, Tony, Bri and Miranda will know there is a star shining down upon them, below Lacerta, above Andromeda, and to the left of Pegasus and its new name is Derek Stephen.
May the force be with you Derek Stephen.