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Richard B. McDermott

Richard B. McDermott, 67, died peacefully in his home in Rapid City, April 13, 2007, exhibiting the same qualities that he maintained throughout his life - grace, integrity, courage, and loyalty to his family and friends.

Dick, as he was known to those close to him, was born on July 19, 1939, in Redfield, SD, to Thomas V. and Alice J. McDermott. His childhood was one of enormous freedom, growing up in a small town. The merry band of friends accumulated during those early years became the graduating class of 1957, and friends over the course of his life.

He attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion from 1957 until 1962, and it was there he met and married his wife, Shirley Kirkham McDermott in 1961. Following graduation, Dick entered the Army as a second lieutenant, and spent 23 years in the Army, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He worked another 10 years as an intelligence analyst in the Pentagon for the Defense Intelligence Agency. He served two tours in Vietnam, and he and his family lived in various places throughout the continental United States, as well as tours in Germany and Korea.

He had more than his share of military and civilian honors throughout his career, but his heart and mind was set on returning to South Dakota.

In 1995, he and Shirley seized a window of opportunity, sold their home in Fairfax, VA, and moved back to South Dakota. They lived in Rapid City for five years before moving to Wasta in 2001 to live in a 100-year-old house, originally owned by Shirley's grandfather. It was there that he had the opportunity to enjoy photography, pottery, working in his garden, and participating in community activities. One of his favorite preoccupations was working on his computer, and with the help of a talented computer consultant, he designed the Web site for the Wasta Centennial in 2006. Both he and Shirley knew that they had finally found their true home, and with the addition of their dog, Maggie, enjoyed life to the fullest.

Dick was extraordinarily proud of his three children, and his grandchildren were a source of pleasure for him. Whether it was making a float for them to ride in the Wasta Fourth of July parade, making videos about dump trucks for his grandsons in New York City or conspiring to order April Fool's gags to surprise their parents, he was fully engaged in having fun with them and loved each grandchild equally.

Survivors include his wife, Shirley; his daughter, Nancy, son-in-law, James Matthews, and their two children of Brooklyn, NY; his son, Michael, daughter-in-law, Tammy McDermott, and their three children of Rapid City; his daughter, Mary and son-in-law, Brent Thorne of San Francisco, CA; his brother, Jack McDermott and wife, Sharon, of Rapid City; and father-in-law, Les Kirkham and special friend, Elaine Novak, also of Rapid City. Other special friends include Nancy and Gene Forderhase, Hazel Kalkbrenner, Joan McDermott, Jim and Pat Parrie, the entire class of 1957, friends and colleagues he worked with through the years, his beloved hospice nurse Michelle, and last but not least, his faithful dog, Maggie.

Throughout his life, Dick McDermott was a quiet, steady presence in the lives of his family and friends, always ready with some clever solution to a problem, and always wickedly funny. It was his wish that we should not grieve his death but celebrate his life. In this, as in most things, his instincts were right. His passing only serves to remind us of how knowing him enriched us all. He is gone but very much still with us. A memorial celebration to commemorate his life will be held at a later time.

Donations in his name may be made either to Hospice of the Black Hills or to the Town of Wasta Park Fund and may be sent to Shirley McDermott, 1626 Evergreen Drive, Unit 8, Rapid City, SD 57702.

Arrangements were with the Rush Funeral Chapel of Wall. Written tributes may be made at www.rushfuneralhome.com