We are sorry to have to announce that John McDermott died at his home on July 29 after a long illness. He was 78.
Mac was at Cranleigh in 2 North from 1952 to 1957 where he was senior prefect in his final term. He also captained the 1st XV and 1st XI cricket, where he was in the XI for four years. It was at Cranleigh he developed three of the dislikes that he maintained all his life – anyone in 1 North, day boys (the biggest insult he could deliver was to accuse someone of being a “1 North day boy”) and hockey players. He steadfastly denied ever having played the game even though School and OCHC records suggest otherwise.
After Cranleigh he spent his two years of National Service as a diver in the navy and from there he went up to Jesus College, Cambridge. After university, he joined IBM where he remained for 30 years and where he met his devoted wife of nearly 50 years, Sylvia. John was immensely proud of their two daughters, Michelle & Tammy and was delighted to welcome his granddaughter Mathilde into the world earlier this year.
IBM also allowed him plenty of time to play sport. He appeared regularly for the OCRFC and the OCCC, and between 1969 and 1974 captained the cricket club. In the late 1970s he disappeared abroad to postings in New York (where he earned an MBA) and Paris, but it was after his retirement from IBM he really threw himself into OC life as well as undertaking other work for local health trusts and schools.
He was on the OC Society Executive committee for more than two decades where his assessment of situations – usually spot on, always forthright – proved invaluable. He looked after the OC Club for several years, and was also a confident of Tony Hart during his time as Headmaster, as well as being an ever-present at reunions.
He was president of the OCCC from 1992 to 2008, changing the role from an honorary one to one which was far more hands-on. From the time he became president, OC cricket was inseparable from Mac. He was pitch side at most matches, home or away, were he held court with his contemporaries and was never short of an opinion. His quiet hard work, much of it behind the scenes, was vital to the club gaining admission to the Cricketer Cup in 2008. As the years went on he was also a keen supporter of Cranleigh rugby.
Sylvia – perhaps the only person who could keep him in check – said not too long ago how much Cranleigh and OCs meant to John and that it was his family. Certainly, in his younger years it was, and he said that he spent most holidays while he was at Cranleigh staying with his friends. John undoubtedly got a lot out of all things Cranleighan, but he repaid that many times over in so many different areas.
Immaculate while at IBM, his retirement sartorial code was more Last of the Summer Wine and his idea of formal dress was wearing a suit with an OCCC tour polo shirt underneath. He did not suffer fools and had his own way of testing newcomers. Those that passed the opening salvos were assured of a place in John’s inner circle, which was an always entertaining place to be. What not so many saw was the unwavering support he gave to youngsters, with a word in the right ear to help them as well as travelling far and wide to watch them.
Mac was a real one-off and will be hugely missed.