John J. “McD” McDermott
January 5, 1932 – September 30, 2018
I regret to inform you that John J. McDermott died this past Sunday morning. He was under the loving care of his beloved companion of thirty-six years and wife of twenty-seven years, Patricia. He has entered the oscillating drama of being and non-being, the boundless, bequeathed to us by Anaximander, the ancient Greek philosopher. McDermott, as he was known to be called, was born on January 5th, 1932 in New York City, where he lived for forty-five years. For twenty-five of those years he taught at Queens College, CUNY, Fordham University, and Stony Brook University, SUNY. He did his undergraduate work at St. Francis College in Brooklyn and his Ph.D. at Fordham University. He is the loving and proud parent of five children, Marise, Michele, David, Brian, and Tara, and one step-daughter Lynne Elizabeth. They are all in the helping professions and have been a joy to him. He offers deep gratitude to Virginia P. McDermott for the splendid care of and for their five children for more than sixty-five years. He is the brother of five siblings, Mary, Ann, Joe, Robert, and Raymond. They, too, are all in the helping professions. He is also survived by six grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and numerous nieces and nephews.
At his death, McDermott was University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Humanities and Humanities in Medicine at Texas A&M University. He was also Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, Regents Professor, and recognized as the Minnie Stevens Foundation’s Piper Professor. He came to Texas A&M University in July of 1977 as Department Head of Philosophy and is proud to have been a member of the Texas A&M University community ever since. McDermott was instrumental in founding the Faculty Senate in 1983, Charter Speaker 1983 – 1984, and Faculty Senator 1983 – 1986. He also founded the Department of Humanities in Medicine and was the driving force in founding and directing the Community of Faculty Retirees. McDermott received four awards from the Association of Former Students, two in research and two in teaching, and the Distinguished Service Award from the College of Liberal Arts. In 1969 he was named as a Harbison Award Winner, one of the ten most gifted teachers in the nation, by the Danforth Foundation. In 2016 McDermott was also acknowledged as one of the fifty most influential living philosophers in the world by BestSchools.org This honor was conferred largely due to his labor in turning around the study of Classical American Philosophy, then moribund, both through editorial work in internationally acclaimed critical editions and bibliographies, and through either founding, co-founding, or serving as a lifetime fellow in five major societies in American Philosophy and the American Montessori Society.
He hereby makes an amend and apology to all those he has hurt for whatever reason. He thanks all those who have helped him over the years, in both good and bad times. He is grateful to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and to Patricia McDermott such that he can say that, at his death, he was in his thirtieth year of continuous sobriety. McDermott is pre-deceased by his parents, John J. and Helen Kelly McDermott, and by his granddaughter Maia Felisse. Most important is his eternal gratitude and affection for Patricia as his companion, his advocate, his wife, and erotic presence in his life beyond compare. I send blessings to all who have crossed my path and wishes for a peaceful death. Try to remember that the nectar is in the journey! Farewell.
Graveside services will be private. A public reception for friends, friends of Bill W., family and colleagues will be held from 1 – 3:30p.m., Saturday, October 13, 2018, at the “McDermott Library” in College Station. All are welcome.
Memorial contributions are being collected in his memory for the “John J. McDermott Fellowship in Humanities” endowment at the Texas A&M Foundation. Gifts can be made by check to 401 George Bush Dr, College Station, TX 77840 or online via https://www.txamfoundation.com/How-To-Give/Honorary-And-memorial.aspx. Be sure and include the endowment name in your gift notations.
The family wishes to thank Brazos Valley Hospice (especially Truby Toner and Steven Higginbotham, M.D.), our private caregivers and Britt Allen P.T., and Joel Richards, M.D., for their very patient and kind care of McDermott during a difficult time.
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