Nelda McDermott passed away on Thursday June 8 at Emmanuel Medical Center. Nelda was a treasured mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, as well as an extremely devoted wife of 51 years to the late Doug McDermott. Together Nelda and Doug raised six children in Turlock. Family was a central part of her life, and she has left a large legacy in the form of her children and their families.
Nelda was an adventurer. With Doug she traveled the globe from Australia to Europe, exploring art, culture, food, and wine. In fact, a good meal and a quality bottle of wine were enough to keep them both happy. Enjoying great theater in Ashland, Oregon, was an annual highlight for many years. Beautiful surroundings were appreciated, but so were the basics of life.
Nelda seldom took the easy or expected route. At a time when very few women pursued learning in the STEM fields, Nelda excelled at mathematics. In high school she won the Bank of America award for achievement in science and math. She proudly graduated from Pomona College – where she fell in love with, and married Doug – and went on to receive a graduate degree in math from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Art was also an important part of Nelda’s life. She never stopped learning new forms of artistic expression – watercolors, oil painting, ceramics, and icon painting to name a few. She and Doug were also collectors of art. From their occasional trips to Australia they amassed an impressive collection of aboriginal art. They also appreciated local Central Valley artists, collecting many friends as well as their artwork.
Another pillar of Nelda’s life was her Catholic faith. Born and raised in the church she became an important participant in the life of Turlock’s Sacred Heart Church. She was a lector and a Eucharistic Minister, and she played the organ beautifully for mass, including celebrations like midnight mass at Christmas. Her faith sustained her throughout her life.
Nelda’s musical talents were not just related to her faith, they were also a large part of family life in the McDermott household. Her children would gather around the piano singing as she expertly played Rogers and Hammerstein tunes. While her kids’ enthusiasm was far greater than their talent, she never stopped encouraging the cacophony.
Nelda was a joyful woman with a fantastic sense of humor, telling jokes to the very end. She could light up a room with her laughing eyes and her smile. She appreciated the sarcasm and silliness provided her by her children, especially as they grew. She knew how to laugh at life and all the craziness it provided. She will be profoundly missed.
She was preceded in death by her son Thomas, her parents Roy and Anita Hooper, her sister Nina Hooper Mangrich, and her husband Douglas McDermott.
A mass in celebration of her life will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Turlock on July 27th at 10 a.m., followed by a reception at the Carnegie Arts Center.
Charitable donations in Nelda’s memory may be made to the St. Labre Indian School of Montana (http://www.stlabre.org) or to the United Samaritan’s Foundation in Turlock (https://www.unitedsamaritans.org). Please share your memories and condolences at www.AllenMortuary.com