McDermott (nee McCarthy), Mary – of Fairfield CT formerly of Huntington NY passed away peacefully on February 4, 2020. Beloved wife of the late James C. McDermott. Devoted mother of Mark McDermott and his wife Jane Rice of Fairfield CT, Paul McDermott of Greenlawn NY and Marie McDermott of Boston MA. Adored Grandmother of John and his wife Samantha, Makayla, Matthew, Madeline and Catherine. Dear sister of Jackie McCarthy of Randolph MA, Elizabeth Rafuse (George Arthur) of Murrells Inlet SC, Ruth Ecker (Ric) of Sandwich MA and Christine McCarthy of Sandwich MA. Mary is also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins and in laws.
Visting hours will be held from 10:00am to 12:00pm on Monday, February 10th at the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, 475 Main Street, Falmouth. Burial to follow in the St. Joseph Cemetery, Gifford Street in Falmouth. Services are also being held on Friday, Feb. 7th and Saturday, Feb 8th in New York.
Born and raised in Dorchester MA, Mary was a force of nature from the start. A fiery redhead, she was her father Jack McCarthy’s constant sidekick accompanying him on many of his adventures. He introduced her to her beloved Cape Cod. As a youngster Mary was a scrappy softball catcher and she regaled us with grand stories of how she managed the nuns at Saint Gregory’s School in Dorchester MA. Whilst in middle school she met a handsome neighborhood boy from Fuller Street, Jimmy McDermott. Jimmy and Mary became fast friends, but she declined his first request of a date to accompany him to the Prom. Although her father Jack warned Jimmy about marrying his spirited daughter, true love won the day.
Mary earned a BS in Education from Boston State Teachers College and began an illustrious career in teaching that spanned over thirty-five years. Her first assignment was in the Walpole MA school system and Mary juggled the birth of her 3 children (born 2 years to the day) while continuing work as a substitute teacher. The family moved to Huntington NY in 1969 and Mary found her way back to teaching with AHRC and discovered her calling in the early 80’s teaching Special Ed in the Huntington School District at Southdown Elementary and subsequently at Huntington High. She had a ball teaching the inclusion classes, especially Science and English. She particularly enjoyed Happy Hour at The Rose N Thistle after Friday dismissal with her partners in crime. Mary returned to college part time when her children were in middle school. She received her Master’s Degree in Special Education from CW Post and eventually earned an additional 60 credits beyond that. A lifelong student, Mary truly loved learning and she and Jim even traveled to London for a month in 1987 to continue her education.
Mary was an avid traveler and never turned down the opportunity to explore the globe, especially with “The Aunties” (Ursula and Ruth). Her nickname was appropriately Mary McMarriott as she was an expert at optimizing her timeshare weeks/points and she spent many happy vacations in Aruba, Spain, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Cabo San Lucas, and even New Jersey. Mary enjoyed shopping trips to Ireland, driving the coast from Oregon to San Francisco, tagging along on Marie’s business trips to San Diego, and of course cruising the Caribbean with her family. Visits with the Rice clan in Ireland were always great craic.
Mary adored Huntington and was an active member of the community. Saint Patrick’s Church, was where lifelong friendships were forged and where Mary taught as a CCD teacher as well serving as a coach for the fantastic St Pat’s Chicks softball team. She was a loyal Huntington High School sports fan and may have been one of the original Booster Club members, even serving as Treasurer at one point. She never missed her children’s school events and was even a chaperone on a few of the band trips. She loved watching her son Paul coach the boys’ varsity lacrosse team at HHS and was especially proud when they won 2 NY State Championships.
Mary loved to shop for bargains and the local Marshalls was a favorite destination in Huntington while the Christmas Tree Shop in Falmouth was kismet. She was a collector of shoes and handbags and was never caught without her lipstick. A lifelong nail biter, she was inspired to quit and in her later years she managed to have the best-looking nails always adorned with glitter or the latest color. Mary had an artistic side and enjoyed calligraphy, painting wine glasses and creating fun seashell ornaments. Mary was an amateur photographer and thoughtfully compiled photo albums to share with her traveling mates. She also loved Facebook and her iPhone (when she could find it – sometimes in her bra).
Mary’s life revolved around kids and she was singularly dedicated to them – first her younger siblings, then her students, her 3 children and their friends, and lastly her 5 grandchildren. The best was saved for last as Mary loved being Grandma Mary/Mama. Mary was always worried about the kids! Who is watching the kids? When will they be home? Where do they need to go? Did they do their homework? Mary started her own Camp Grandma and was the short order cook, reading teacher (not math), playmate, arts and crafts specialist, nurse and whatever else was called for. She loved every minute of it (almost) and when they left, she was always planning for their next visit.
Mary summered in Falmouth (Cape Cod) MA her whole life and always made sure she spent her August birthday there. In her youth Mary was a lifeguard and sailed Beetle Cats too. She loved her Great Harbors neighborhood, and nothing made Mary happier than seeing the whole family enjoy the community activities together. Her other name was Mary Falmouth!
Mark and Jane, along with Maddie and Cate, graciously opened their Fairfield home to Mary (and Jim) these last few years. She was happy to drop food scraps for the dogs Murphy and Maggie when Mark wasn’t looking and then deny it! Mary spent the last few years valiantly dealing with health issues. Her latest adventure included a broken leg in November which required surgery. Mary was recently battling pneumonia and congestive heart failure and she quietly decided it was time to be with her Jimmy just in time for his birthday in heaven (February 6). Certainly a donut cake with lots of ice cream was on the menu.
Mary had blue, blue eyes and when they twinkled you knew she was up to something naughty. Sometimes it was moving pianos with her friend Celine, other times it was “borrowing” a souvenir glass at her favorite restaurant. Jimmy’s last words to her were “behave” and she heard it often from her kids, grandkids and caregivers.
Who will take care of the kids now? Rest easy Mama we got it and if all else fails we have your wooden spoons.
View Mary's video tribute here.