Van Cleeff
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Dave "Papa" Dermon was born in Kiev, Ukraine on April 15, 1885.  In March 1905 he left Russia and came to the United States on board the Etruria.  His final destination was Memphis, where his older sister Esther was living.  Esther had married Sam Bronstein and arrived in the United States in 1897, having sailed on the Maasdam.  Mollie Dermon came later in 1905 aboard the Lucania.   Arriving with very little, Papa was able to become one of the most prominent real estate men of the city.  He had the uncanny ability to predict where the city would grow, and bought and sold property in these areas.

His first job was for the Power and Light company.  By 1910 he had opened his own, very successful, tin business.

Tin Work

After beginning the naturalization process in 1910, Papa was finally naturalized in 1914, almost ten years to the day after his arrival.


At this time, he was president of Baron Hirsch Synagogue.  In the late teens, Papa became a partner in Godlove Motor Corporation.  By the early 1920's, he was involved in real estate, and in 1924, Dave Dermon Realty Company was formed.


Notice that this letterhead shows the address as the Dermon Building.   The Building was constructed in 1925 and opened in 1926, the date of this paper.   Click here, or below, for more information on the Dermon Building.  The Company continued to grow and prosper, and an insurance agency was formed about 1930.

Many book and newspaper articles have been written about Dave Dermon.  The histories of Baron Hirsch, for example, mention how Papa was against building the 'new' synagogue on Vollintine.  He wanted to build at Poplar and Goodlett, a site that could still be serving the congregation.  Years later, his wisdom showed because the Synagogue moved again!

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Even today, the Memphis Commercial Appeal frequently mentions him in its daily "News from Bygone Days" column.  Most old time Memphians have very fond memories of Papa and Mama Dermon and the Dermon Building.

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last update: Tuesday, May 02, 2006