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Mary McDermott, 96

Mary T. McDermott (Mickey), a longtime resident of New Richmond, died very peacefully in the presence of many of her nieces and nephews on May 2 at Boutwell's Landing in Stillwater, just after her 96th birthday on May 1.

Many friends and relatives of Mickey knew her for her caring and loving spirit to relatives, friends and neighbors, for her very strong, long-time commitment to Immaculate Conception in New Richmond and her great cooking. Many do not know the details of her very successful and impactful professional life as a teacher in special education.

Mickey was born in New Richmond to George William and Margaret Ethel McDermott on May 1, 1913. She had one sister, Margie, and four brothers, George, Bill, Miles and James (Hoyt), who have all preceded her in death.

Mickey grew up and went to school in New Richmond. She graduated from New Richmond High School in 1931, and went on to nursing school at the encouragement of her parents.

After earning her cap she realized she really did not enjoy nursing at all and decided to do what she really wanted to do all along, which was to become a teacher. She went back to school and taught at a rural one room school on Lonesome Trail near New Richmond for 10 years. The superintendent asked her to teach in a new program in remedial reading in New Richmond which became a difficult challenge for her, but she stuck with it with the encouragement and prayers of her mother.

Word spread around the State of Wisconsin about the great success she was having with these special students. She was offered a job in Black River Falls where she could design the program and even the room set up and pick out the equipment for a cutting edge program in special education. This program became the model for special education around the state and Mickey won many awards and honors, but what made her happy was the difference she was able to make in the lives of her students.

Mickey taught special education for 30 years and absolutely loved it. She devoted her life to these students and was successful because as she said, "she just loved the daylights" out of them. Many of her students continued to contact her even after 50 years to thank her for believing in them. Many of these students have become ideal citizens and great assets to their communities.

Mickey entered the memory care facility at Boutwell's Landing in Stillwater in the summer of 2005.

She is survived by nephews Pat Riley, Mike Riley, Jim McDermott, Joe McDermott, Rick McDermott, John McDermott and Mike McDermott; nieces Nancy Fouks, Gail Venburg, Kathy Parent and Mary McDermott; and her sisters-in-law Norma McDermott and Rose Mary McDermott; as well as many grand nieces, nephews and cousins.

For more information about Mickey's life as well as stories, photos, reflections, prayers and even some of her recipes go to

A wake was held on Tuesday, May 5, from 5-7 p.m. at Cullen Crea Funeral Home, 307 S. Arch Ave., New Richmond, 715-246-2667. Funeral service was Wednesday, May 6, at 10 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Church, 151 S. Washington Ave., New Richmond, with burial after the service. Lunch was served following the burial.