Michael H. McDermott, 78, of Cortland St., Homer, passed away peacefully after long-standing health struggles which originally stemmed from exposure to agent orange on August 30, 2023.
Born June 23, 1945, in Binghamton and raised in Cortland, he was the son of the late John and Mary Pavlyak. Mike graduated with honors from St. Mary’s High School and over the years attended Onondaga Community College, University of Maryland, SUNY Cortland and Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3).
Mike joined the U.S. Navy in 1964 and was honorably discharged in 1967. He served a year in Vietnam where he worked in communication and intelligence with a Marine support battalion. On base he also served as a rifleman and assistant M60 machine gunner. While in Vietnam he was promoted to Petty Officer 2nd Class. Prior to deploying to South Vietnam, he attended jungle warfare school for weapons and survival training. For his sacrifice, Mike was awarded the Purple Heart, the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, various South Vietnamese awards, and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross and Service Star.
He retired in 2001 from the U.S. Postal Service in Cortland, where was a letter carrier for many years. Following his retirement, Mike took an interest in local politics, serving three terms as a Homer Village Trustee and three terms as the Mayor.
Mike was honored to serve two terms as the Commander of the New York State American Legion. He was the first person from Cortland County in the Legions’ 100-year history to serve as Commander. He joined the American Legion in 1980, serving various leaderships roles including 13 years as Commander of the Burns-McCauliffe Post 465, Homer, and four years as Commander of the Cortland County American Legion. He served as Commander and Vice Commander of the Legion’s Sixth District and in 2010 he was the Sixth District Legionnaire of the Year. He was also a graduate of American Legion College, and a member of the National and New York State American Legion Press Associations.
In his spare time, Dermie enjoyed watching sports, especially the NY Yankees, Syracuse Orange and NY Giants.
Surviving are his children, Jonathan (Melissa) McDermott of Homer; Katelyn (Kyle) Leonard of Queensbury and Annemarie (David) Farris of Tennessee; six grandchildren, Jocelyne, Rosalie and Elliott McDermott and Brigitte, Riter and Vada Sue Leonard. Also surviving are his longtime companion, Diana Moreland; a niece, Mary McDermott and nephew, Christopher McDermott.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by a brother, James McDermott.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. in St. Margaret’s Church, 14 Copeland Ave., Homer, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by the Rev. Joseph Zareski. Interment, with Naval honors, will follow in Glenwood Cemetery, Homer.
Calling hours will be held from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Friday, September 8, 2023 at the Donald L. Barber Funeral Home, 5016 US Route 11, Homer, NY 13077.
Memorial contributions in Mr. McDermott’s name may be directed to the Burns-McCauliffe Post 465 American Legion, PO Box 141, Homer, NY 13077.