Mary E. McDermott, known to everyone as “Polly,” died peacefully with her daughters at her side at the age of 87 on Feb. 27, 2019 at Broad Creek Care Center in Hilton Head, SC. She is survived by her two daughters, Megan McDermott (Steven Schafer) and Morna McDermott McNulty (Leonard), and four grandchildren: Merrill Hersam, Maren Hersam, Conor McNulty and Molly McNulty.
Polly was born in Philadelphia to Fred and Thelma Bright. She was the middle of three children and had an older sister, Gloria, and younger brother, Freddy, both of whom pre-deceased her.
Polly traveled the country extensively during her childhood, moving from California to Connecticut and finally settling in Princeton , NJ, where she attended high school and enjoyed the social events at Princeton University. After attending junior college, Polly went to work at Life Magazine where she met the love of her life, John R. (“Jack”) McDermott, to whom she was married for nearly 40 years. Polly and Jack both knew after their first date, a Harlem Globetrotters game, that they would marry, and they became engaged three months later. They were married until Jack passed away in April of 1995. After raising their children in the suburbs of Chappaqua and Weston, they retired to Sea Pines where Polly lived until 2017, when she moved to Broad Creek. Polly enjoyed golf, good books, crossword puzzles and lunch with her friends.
A life lived well is a life lived fully. Polly lived fully every day of her life. Polly was never shy about sharing her remarkable life adventures–from attending a New York concert in the company of Albert Einstein and Dr. A. E. Lowe to being one of the few allowed on the platform at Cape Canaveral for the launching of the Mercury program in 1963. She dined with princes and sports stars, and she and Jack traveled the world together making memories and experiencing all that life had to offer. Yet Polly was also a devoted wife and mother who dedicated most of her life to raising her children.
What brought Polly the most pleasure was making people smile. Polly was eternally optimistic. She laughed easily, forgave quickly and loved unconditionally. She made everyone around her feel welcome and appreciated. Never quick to temper, never harboring anger, always forgiving. She will be remembered for her quick wit and her bright smile. If a life well-lived is measured by the number of people to whom we bring joy, laughter and love, then Polly Bright’s life exceeds all measure. She will be incredibly missed by her family and friends.
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