Sarah Schemm McDermott
Sarah Schemm McDermottSarah "Sally" McDermott passed away peacefully at home among family on March 4, 2022. She was 87. Born in Detroit, Michigan to Betty and George Schemm, Sally spent her early years in Grosse Pointe before heading east to Emma Willard School (class of '52) and then Smith College where she graduated magna cum laude in 1956 with a degree in zoology. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, a scientific research honor society. Her first job was in research at Parke-Davis, now part of Pfizer, before continuing on to the University of Michigan for an MA in Philosophy in 1958.

It was there she met the love of her life, John "Jack" McDermott to whom she remained married for 57 years. They spent two years in Key West, Florida shortly after wedding, where Jack served as a chief of neuropsychiatry at the US Naval hospital and Sally taught 7th grade before returning to Ann Arbor where Jack was a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. They adopted two children, Elizabeth (Beth) in 1963 and John in 1964.

A move to Hawaii in 1969 changed their life, when Jack was offered the opportunity to help found the new John A Burns School of Medicine and lead its Dept of Psychiatry.

Sally quickly adapted, indulging her passion for community service, to which she devoted her life.

Her most enduring commitment was to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, serving as the Rehab Foundation's first President, then VP, Treasurer and finally Chair of the Board of the hospital over a span of 25 years. Throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s she took on countless leadership roles, among them: founding board member of PACT (Parents and Children Together), President of the Auxiliary to both the Honolulu Medical Society and Hawaii State Medical Association, and during the years they lived on Hawai`i Island, President of North Hawai'i Hospice.

Sally credited her long tenure with Honolulu's Junior League as key to helping her develop her leadership skills, later receiving the League's Laura Dowsett Award, bestowed on Outstanding members.

An avid gardener, Sally was also an active member of the Garden Club of Honolulu. She helped found the Hawaii chapter of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. She was also a national leader supporting her alma mater, Smith College in its mission to educate and elevate young women. She maintained a lifelong commitment to her church, the Parish of St Clement, where she was appointed Senior Warden of the Vestry, guiding the church through a difficult period. She was also parent chair of the Punahou Carnival in '82, the year her son was a Junior.

She was a champion for justice always, particularly of civil and women's rights, becoming increasingly politically active in her later years. Foremost she would say she was devoted to her family and friends, always seeking to find new ways to support and bring joy to those she loved. And there were many as she accrued hundreds of friends over years of traveling the world with Jack, covering every corner of the globe from Antarctica to the mountain tops of Rwanda. Summers at her beloved family cottage at Pointe Aux Barques, Michigan on Lake Huron were the constant though, and dearest to her heart, the family connection there going back five generations. We can almost hear the laughter ringing out still from the many parties Sally loved to host there and everywhere she and Jack lived. Her boundless energy was legendary-- Sally playing golf, tennis, hiking and even getting up to dance into her last days.

Sally's joie de vivre, warmth, intelligence, and deep compassion will be remembered by many. Always there with a ready smile and a hug, she lived her faith each day, seeking no accolades, her goal always to cheer on and lift up others. She is survived by: daughter Beth, son John, and three treasured grandchildren; Piper, Jack and Phoebe. A service for Sally will be held Saturday May 28th 11 a.m. at St Clements Church in Honolulu. Contributions can be made to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, or the humanitarian organization of your choice.

Arrangements Provided By: Oahu Mortuary

Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased