Michael James McDermott III, 77, went to his long-anticipated heavenly home on February 28, 2019. His devotion to his family and his firm belief in God supported him and gave him peace.
Mike was born in Mobile, Alabama, on September 17, 1941. He accepted Jesus as a boy and lived his life faithfully and generously. After high school he graduated from Auburn University and immediately joined the United States Navy as an officer. His love of airplanes led him to train as a flight navigator in a time before computers. His mathematics degree helped him calculate routes to fly all over the world. He lived and worked in far off places such as Iceland, New Zealand and Antarctica. Mike also earned a Masters' Degree in Human Resources Management from Pepperdine University.
Being a life-long learner and an educator at heart, Mike started the Navy's first race relations school in Memphis in the early 1970s. This was during a time when this training was neither ordinary nor popular. That did not stop him from doing what was right. Eventually, he was stationed at McMurdo Naval Research Center in Antarctica supporting the National Science Foundation. He spent five freezing seasons there. Mike would later tease his family that they were weather wimps and didn't know what cold really is.
In 1987 Mike met his wife of 31 years on a blind date, and they were married just ten weeks later. He soon adopted her two children, Erin and Edward, making them a true family. After moving to Lompoc in 1989, Mike worked on Vandenberg Air Force Base as a flight safety contractor. He also taught management level classes and community college math. One of his life-long passions was teaching others about the Bible. For several years, he had an abundant ministry inside the local federal prisons. He was active at Lompoc Valley Baptist Church and started a Reformers Unanimous group. Mike was committed to service and volunteered at the Lompoc Library's tutoring program where he helped many people, including a 91-year old woman to get her GED. In addition, he was a regular Bible teacher at the Comprehensive Care Center until his health declined.
Despite all his activities, he always had time for his family and was very supportive and generous. He taught us all to be better people and will be greatly missed. He is survived by his wife Susan; his oldest son Ben, his wife Kim and their children John Paul, Alannah and Neena; Erin Myers and her children Ellie, Noah and Jubilee; Edward and his wife Jessica; sister-in-law Lyn Messler and her husband David; and many friends.
His family is very grateful for the kind and loving care that he received at the Country Oaks Care Center in Santa Maria. It made the journey easier knowing that they cared about him like his family.
A memorial celebration with be held at Lompoc Valley Baptist Church, 700 E College Avenue, on Saturday March 9, 2019, at 3 pm.