By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Joseph and Lois McDermott, newly named citizens of the year, didn’t mind the slow pace on Biddle July 4 as they waved from the backseat of a classic Mustang convertible.
The couple, honored by Mayor Joseph Peterson after the parade for their ongoing volunteer work, met in 1998 when they were working at a pancake breakfast at American Legion Post 217, at 2817 Van Alstyne in Wyandotte.
Both were widowed, and matchmaking friends soon encouraged Lois to ask him to dance at a 50th wedding anniversary party of mutual friends. That night when he walked her to her car, Joseph said he would call her the next day, and their life together began.
Both were active with the American Legion before they met.
Lois McDermott, a 26-year member of the American Legion Auxiliary, has held many offices, including historian, membership, sergeant at arms, treasurer, executive board member and first vice president.
The auxiliary is the world largest woman’s patriotic service organization, whose mission is to serve veterans, the military and their families through numerous outreach programs.
Joseph McDermott, a 21-year member of the American Legion, a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness, has served as post commander, adjutant (administrator), finance officer and honor guard member.
“Any help you can give we appreciate,” he said. “You don’t have to take charge of something yourself. You can join in to help the person who is in charge.”
He served in the military for 30 years – initially for six years in the Army, then for 24 years in the Air Force. He said he was stationed all over the world, including Russia, Japan, China and Singapore.
Lois McDermott currently serves the auxiliary as national security chairwoman, a role that helps maintain and promote a strong national defense by supporting service members and their families, and as chairwoman of a committee that clips and sends coupons to military families overseas to help them save money when shopping at military commissaries, military base grocery stores operated by the Defense Commissary Agency.
She said she is well on her way to sending $450,000 worth of coupons this year to U.S. military families in Okinawa, Japan.
During her first four years of sending coupons overseas, she said she sent more than $1 million worth. Last year she sent $408,000 worth of coupons. Before Japan, she sent coupons to military families in Turkey.
“If you have time on your hands and you want to give to someone else, it makes you feel good,” she said. “And to me, since I am retired, here I am at 84, and I give this my all, and work on it every day, and I just feel great when I can go to the post office and say, ‘Here’s another box of coupons.’”
Peterson said the McDermotts are “the perfect couple” to be Citizens of the Year.
“They give so much to the city,” he said. “Thank God we were able to give back to them.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)