Eric Ferdinand deGruyter of Charleston, formerly of Spencer

Eric Ferdinand deGruyter of Charleston, West Virginia, passed away Saturday, January 30, 2021, at his home at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, of complications from cancer.

He was born in 1953, the son of Ferdinand Hersman and Anna Mary (McVaney) deGruyter. Ferd was a watchmaker and owner of deGruyter Jewelry in Spencer, West Virginia, and Anna Mary was a math teacher.

Eric grew up in Spencer, where he and his family were active members of the First Baptist Church. He was an Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow, played piano, and trombone in the Spencer Junior High and High School Bands, was the sports statistician, and graduated as Salutatorian from Spencer High School in 1970.

He graduated from Davis and Elkins College in 1974, where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi, and West Virginia University, with dual degrees in physics and industrial engineering.

His first job was with the then-new Personal Rapid Transit System at West Virginia University. He worked at RCA in Winchester, Virginia, and for a wholesale importer in San Francisco before returning to West Virginia in 1981 to work for the Engineering Division of the Public Service Commission, regulating natural gas utilities.

He was one of the many people who do things that are mostly invisible, but are essential to keep our society running. He analyzed natural gas company operations and construction, became an expert in depreciation, testified at rate hearings, compiled reports, and, every winter, helped people on legacy gas systems who were in danger of losing their heat.

He kept on long after he was eligible to retire, and through the pandemic and his own illness, because he had things he wanted to see through.

He loved growing things, being outdoors, camping, the West Virginia mountains, and his children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and grandnephews, and was known for his warmth, kindness, and sense of humor.

He is survived by his children, John Eric Ferdinand deGruyter (Kate), Kate deGruyter Grant, and Carol deGruyter Lester (Adam); grandchildren John and Julia Grant and Allie and Noah Lester; sister Mary Lisa deGruyter (Robert Helfer); niece Hilde deGruyter-Helfer McKissick (Kevin); grandnephews Keith and Aidan McKissick, and nephew Arend deGruyter-Helfer; an aunt, Irene (McVaney) Halstead, and many cousins.

If you would like to be notified regarding a memorial service to be held at a later date, please send an email to