Joe A. McDermottMarch 12, 1929 ~ January 14, 2018 (age 88)
Joe A. McDermott passed away peacefully to be with his Lord and Savior Sunday, January 14, 2018, surrounded by his family and many dear friends. Joe lived his life dedicated to “making a showing”: in business, athletics, and most importantly in his overwhelming love for family and friends.
Born March 12, 1929, Joe was raised in Lufkin, Texas by his loving parents Joseph A. McDermott, Sr. and Lorraine Lane McDermott. As the first boy born into his mother’s large extended family in a generation, it’s fair to say Joe was doted on by numerous female relatives. While this may have gone to his head, it also equipped him with confidence and determination to succeed.
Growing up, Joe learned from his father a lifelong love of horses; the family often kept a horse in the backyard. Joe loved roping calves at small rodeos in East Texas and was never satisfied with anything other than the best tie-down time.
Joe’s love for athletics was nurtured by his favorite aunt, Frankie Lane, who spent hours playing every kind of ball with him. A gifted athlete, Joe starred in football and basketball for the Fighting Lufkin Panthers, going to the state quarterfinals in football. His basketball prowess attracted the attention of the legendary football coach and athletic director of Rice Institute, Jess Neely. Joe often said that the luckiest day of his life was the day that Coach Neely sent Rice basketball coach Joe Davis to Joe’s father’s Gulf filling station to offer Joe a basketball scholarship to Rice. Joe enrolled in Rice in 1947 and promptly made a showing in basketball, starting as a sophomore and leading the Southwest Conference in scoring his junior and senior years. He proudly graduated from Rice in 1951. Joe repaid Rice with lifelong support, and was accorded numerous honors including Rice University’s Distinguished “R” Man award in 1982.
After a stint in the US Army, Joe settled in Houston, where his first son Joseph A. McDermott, III was born. Joe quickly found his way into the mortgage business and from there into real estate development working for Walter M. Mischer, who became his lifelong dear friend and mentor.
Joe soon went into business for himself and with hard work, attention to aesthetics, and an uncanny gift for picking locations, made a showing developing several million square feet of commercial property, including projects spanning five decades in partnership with his great friend Roy Henry Cullen. Joe made his biggest early splash developing Town and Country Village, a major shopping center, with Dan M. Moody, Sr., who took a chance backing a young talent and was rewarded with a signature property.
Joe’s great professional talent and love was land development: finding a large tract in the path of Houston’s growth, buying it worth the money, and turning it into a first class mixed use commercial development. Beginning in the 1970’s with Cypress Station, Northwest Crossing, and Champions Villages and continuing until his death, Joe reveled in finding and “cutting up” great pieces of land. He was always looking for, and usually finding, the next big deal.
During the gaps in his eighty hour work weeks, Joe nurtured his love of horses. He founded McDermott Ranch in 1968 and made a showing in American Quarter Horse racing, producing half a dozen All American Futurity qualifiers, and ranking among the leading breeders and owners of American Quarter Horses for many years. He later turned to Thoroughbred racing; he bred and owned 2001 Texas Horse of the Year Lights on Broadway. Joe was Texas Thoroughbred Breeder of the year in 2002, and inducted into the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2014.
Joe served on the boards of Allied Bank, Town and Country Village Bank, Cypress Bank, Goodwill Industries, the YMCA, the Executive Board of the Association of Rice Alumni, Rice University Fund Council, American Quarter Horse Association, and Texas Thoroughbred Association where he served as president in 1984 and 1985. He was a longtime member of River Oaks Country Club.
In 1986, Joe married his great love Nancy Young. To their delight, they had two children, John Joseph “JJ” McDermott and Jake Matthew McDermott. Joe was, to say the least, an enthusiastic backer of his wife and all three of his sons. He championed them and their achievements, professional, academic, athletic and artistic, and never missed an opportunity to “brag on” his family. Joe passed to his family his great enthusiasm for life, his tremendous heart, and his love of people.
Anyone who had a conversation with Joe lasting longer than a few minutes came away feeling as if he’d known Joe for years. The secret is Joe really cared about people and they knew it. His vivacious personality and charisma were infectious; any room became brighter when Joe walked in. Many considered Joe a close friend; luckily his huge heart had room for each of them.
Joe is survived by his devoted wife, Nancy, son Joe III and wife Charlotte, son J.J. and wife Hallie, son Jake, all of Houston, sister Ursula Sanders of Fort Worth, many beloved sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, cousins, and a long lifetime’s worth of dear friends, young and old.
The family would like to thank his longtime caregivers and friends Alejandro Gonzalez and Yolanda Ipiña.
Friends are invited to a visitation with the family on Thursday, January 18, 2018 from five until eight o’clock in the evening at Bradshaw-Carter Memorial & Funeral Services, 1734 West Alabama Street in Houston. A funeral service will be held on Friday, January 19, 2018 at ten o’clock in the morning in the chapel at Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway Drive in Houston. A reception will follow at a location to be announced. Burial at Glenwood Cemetery is private.
In lieu of flowers donations may be given in Joe’s memory to Houston Area Parkinson's Society, 1475 W. Gray St., Houston, TX, 77019 or a charity of your choice.