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Memories & Candles

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you...May the memories you have, keep him alive in your hearts, until you meet again.....Love, Bobby and Pam Keller ”
1 of 9 | Posted by: Bobby and Pamela Keller - Swifton, AR

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Rhonda & Harry Dunavant ”
2 of 9 | Posted by: Rhonda Dunavant - Little Rock, AR

“Larry and your family, My condolences to you in the loss of your father. Sincerely, Dianne Gage Woodruff ”
3 of 9 | Posted by: Dianne Woodruff - Little Rock, AR

“you are in our thoughts and prayers. kevin,gina,jessica,and carly mcswain ”
4 of 9 | Posted by: GINA MCSWAIN - dewitt, AR

“Dear Ms. Ila Mae, Larry, Patsy, Johnny and Mike I am so sorry for your loss. But we all know where he is now. I remember Mr. JR well and very fond...Read More »
5 of 9 | Posted by: Jania Robertson Karr - dumas, AR

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. May god bless and keep you strong at this time. ”
6 of 9 | Posted by: Quam & Pat Neal/Paul & Jennean McCutchen

“Dear McDermott family....I am so sorry to hear about Mr Jr's homegoing. I remember him from his "Togo" days. Larry & Patsy I knew well. I have...Read More »
7 of 9 | Posted by: Mary Franklin Taylor - Casscoe, AR

“There are no words that can express my feelings now. He was such an inspiration in my life. He lived what he taught. He helped shape my adult life....Read More »
8 of 9 | Posted by: Bill & Jean (clay) Newberry - AR

“Ila, I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your loss, but I also know that you are peaceful in knowing that he is with our Lord. How wonderful...Read More »
9 of 9 | Posted by: Hulene Pierce - Harrisburg, AR


CHERRY VALLEY — John Edward McDermott, 80, a lifelong farmer and family man, passed away peacefully at his home in Cherry Valley on Friday, Dec. 18, 2009.

McDermott was born May 3, 1929, at Cherry Valley. Having lost his parents at an early age, he was raised by an older brother, Jimmy H., also a Cherry Valley farmer, who died in 1998. John McDermott was the sole surviving member of his immediate family.

Known by many as “Junior,” McDermott grew up in Parkin in Cross County and attended schools there. He was graduated from Parkin High School in 1948 and worked a variety of jobs in the area, including pumping gas at a filling station and as a cotton ginner before beginning his farming career.

At first he was a sharecropper living in a shotgun house at Earle. Later he rented a small farm at Togo, then in 1956 became a farm manager for C.A. Dawson of Marked Tree, overseeing more than 1,100 acres at Coldwater in Cross County.

In 1969 he and his wife, Ila Mae Harris McDermott, using money they had managed to save for many years, purchased the John Roberts Farm, which is located on Arkansas 1 at Whitehall in Poinsett County. For the next 26 years John and Ila Mae farmed 1,400 acres, raising mostly soybeans, rice and cotton on the tillable portion of the farm and 250 head of Black Angus cattle on the hill portion. They also owned a small fish-farming operation.

McDermott was a friend to everyone regardless their circumstances, color or religion. With his beloved dogs over the years, the last one a mutt named “Blackie,” in the back of his pickup truck, he would make the rounds, stopping at a variety of shops, businesses, farms and residences in Cherry Valley and Harrisburg, always asking everyone how they were doing.

He was a generous man to many but frugal in his own lifestyle. At the First Assembly of God in Harrisburg he served in a number of lay positions, including Sunday school superintendent and song director. He also was a deacon and Sunday school teacher.

He loved his family, friends, chocolate milkshakes and Ila Mae’s cooking. He was a proud and loving husband and father.

McDermott is survived by Ila Mae Harris, his best friend, caregiver and devoted wife of 62 years. He affectionately called her “My Sweetie” until the end of his life.

He is deeply loved and survived by his four children, Michael P. and wife Darla of Weiner, Johnny A. and wife Sandra of Stuttgart, Patsy L. Thompson and husband Martin of Tucson, Ariz., and Larry A. of Springfield, Mass. Other survivors include nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are set for 10 a.m. Monday at the First Assembly of God, Arkansas 1 North, in Harrisburg with the Rev. Eddie Passmore officiating. Interment will follow in Crittenden Memorial Park Cemetery at Marion under the direction of Gregg-Weston Funeral Home of Harrisburg.

Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. today in the church.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to Teen Challenge of Arkansas Inc. (www.teenchallengear.org), a nonprofit, faith-based organization that helps people struggling with drug addiction.

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