MADAWASKA – Donald Leo McDermott, 91, passed away Jan. 9, 2013, at a Madawaska health care facility of complications from influenza. He was born Oct. 21, 1921, in Orono, son of the late Mark McDermott and Lorinda (Leveille) McDermott.
His father, a papermaker, moved from Groveton, N.H., to Madawaska in the fall of 1926 to help start up the two new Fraser paper machines. The rest of the family had to wait until the following spring to move, after the “mud season” was over, or risk getting stuck in their Model T. He attended school in Madawaska, graduating in 1938 from the school later to be named “Acadia.” He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in Presque Isle, in July, 1942, and got his pilot wings, November, 1943, at Marfa, Texas. He served as captain in the U.S. Air Force and was trained as a bomber pilot. Piloting his B-17 bomber “D-Day Doll” in charge of a crew of eight, he flew 35 missions over Germany and occupied Europe in World War II from June to November, 1944. His “D-Day Doll” got shot up so badly on his 16th mission that he never saw that plane again. On his 31st mission he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was awarded the Air Medal and four oak leaf clusters to the Air Medal, along with the Bronze Service Star. One of the favorite stories he told of his service as a pilot was that he and his crew would take an open cockpit plane up to airspace with temperatures nearing minus 50 degrees to make ice cream. He was employed by Fraser Paper Ltd. for 44 years, starting as a mail boy after graduating from high school at 16, and finished his career as a production planning supervisor. As a mail boy he would bike from the U.S. paper mill side to the Canadian pulp mill side delivering mail. A few times he was asked to bring over (smuggle) “Cubans” (cigars) on his trip back to the U.S. This always made him a bit nervous as he knew customs realized what was going on! He served on the board of directors of Fraser Employees Credit Union for 29 years and was an American Legion member for 62 years. An avid sportsman, Don refereed and played basketball, hit home runs in softball until age 61, played in many golf tournaments, and when he wasn’t doing any of those, he did downhill and cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, snowmobiling, bowling, camping, boating, hunting and fishing. He enjoyed the camaraderie that these activities provided. He loved the woods and took his family on many long rides and picnics. The area he loved most was Beaver Brook in far northwestern Maine, staying at the Daigle’s “Escourt Hilton” or next door, at the Foster’s “Allagash Hilton.” Don was a humble man who had a great sense of humor and enjoyed a good joke or story. His Irish wit was never far away. He treasured every moment spent with his family, especially summers at his cottage on Long Lake in St Agatha.
He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Marie (Dumais) McDermott; daughter, Kathleen (McDermott) Evans of Madbury, N.H.; son, Mark McDermott of Madawaska and his wife, Linda McDermott; son, Kenneth McDermott of Grand Prairie, Texas; seven grandchildren, Jill McDermott of Falmouth, Mass., Thomas McDermott of Portland, Timothy McDermott of Enfield, N.H., Chelsea Evans of Portsmouth, N.H., Kayla Evans of Madbury, N.H., and David and Shawn McDermott of Madawaska; and 27 nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother, Francis “Mac” McDermott and his sister, Lorraine (McDermott) Barber. The family would like to thank the staff at High View Nursing for taking such good care of him.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. Family and friends may call 6-8 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. until time of service Saturday at Lajoie Funeral Home. Spring burial will be held in the parish cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to a worthy charity of your choice. For online condolences, please visit www.lajoiefuneralhome.com.