McDERMOTT, Dr. Mark R. - (February 24, 1950 – August 13, 2019) -
Mark closed his final flight plan on August 13, 2019 at Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton surrounded by close family and friends.
Born in Toronto in 1950, he left for Hamilton in 1969. With an intense scientific curiosity, he excelled in academic studies at McMaster University where he obtained a PhD and became a member of the Faculty of Health Sciences.
In the field of research, as part of McMaster’s Immunology Research Group, Mark focussed on the mucosal immune response and contributed to the development of new delivery methods for vaccines, helping McMaster achieve its world-recognized research position. As part of the university’s administration, he facilitated millions of dollars of research contracts with the private sector and became a sought-after consultant to the Biotech and Pharmaceutical industries.
But it was the field of teaching that became Mark’s passion, particularly during his later years, when he devoted significant time to mentoring and guiding many students toward achieving their academic goals.
From a young age he had a desire to explore the rugged natural landscape. He became proficient with a paddle and descended many challenging white-water rivers. Over time, the need for adrenalin was replaced with a need for serenity which he found through frequent sea kayaking trips to Georgian Bay. Like many with a love for the outdoors, the mountains also beckoned. He became an accomplished mountaineer and scaled many peaks in the Canadian Rockies, including 19 first ascents. On skis, he schussed through the powder snow of slopes in North and South America. Eventually, his desire to be at elevation could not be satisfied by foot and chairlift alone. He obtained his pilot’s license and owned and flew an assortment of power planes and gliders.
All of these endeavours were practiced with dogged precision plus a stroke of luck. He made his line down turbulent rivers and never fell from the precipice of a mountain. He only missed an airport runway once, emerging unscathed, and survived the famous Nepali earthquake of 2015 while en route to the base camp of Mount Everest.
Above all else, what he found most satisfying in the pursuit of scientific knowledge and lofty adventure was the camaraderie of those with whom he engaged… his “cronies” as he liked to call them.
Mark leaves behind his loving wife Marilyn, son Chris, brother Paul as well as many thankful friends, colleagues, students and dachshunds of years gone by.
There will be a celebration of his extraordinary life later this fall.
For those wishing to make a donation in Mark’s memory, please consider the Georgian Bay Land Trust or the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. (Arrangements wirh Smith’s funeral home, Brant St. chapel, Burlington.)
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of...