Full of Grace – A physician who served the people of Camden

Full of Grace – A physician who served the people of Camden

vincentmcdermottDr. Vincent T. McDermott, Sr., the first president of Our Lady of Lourdes medical staff, spent the majority of his 74 years at the call of others. He was, as his daughter Mimi Keeley described him, a man who loved “his faith, his family, and the people of Camden that he served so humbly.”

Born in Pennsylvania in 1900, Dr. McDermott was 2 years old when his family moved to South Camden. He commuted via ferry to St. Joseph’s Prep and College and then to Jefferson Medical College.

He received his medical degree in 1926, and was soon serving as the Camden Brewery doctor. (Located at Fillmore and Bulson streets, the brewery came under control of bootlegger Mickey Duffy during Prohibition, until he was murdered in 1931, according to a history of Camden on The Delaware Valley Rhythm & Blues Society, Inc. website, www.dvrbs.com. Dr. McDermott “had many stories to tell,” Keeley said of her father’s Prohibition years and other experiences.)

Dr. McDermott moved to Holy Name Parish in North Camden, into a building that became a home for his wife and four children, and a medical practice for patients. Today, the former site of Dr. McDermott’s home and practice is St. Luke Catholic Medical Services.

During World War II, Dr. McDermott served in the 61st Station Hospital in Africa and Italy. Upon his return, he began specializing in internal medicine and was the personal doctor for many priests in the Diocese of Camden, who were his friends.

In 1950, he became the first chief of staff of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. An annual award to a graduate of Lourdes’ School of Nursing bears his name: The Vincent T. McDermott Award for Excellence in Medical Nursing. He was class agent for his Jefferson class of ‘26 for 45 years.

Dr. McDermott was a Knight of St. Gregory, a pontifical order of chivalry bestowed by the pope on individuals for their service to the church.

Along with his family, work and faith, Dr. McDermott also enjoyed the outdoors, especially gardening, fishing and boating. His first boat that he built, “E Hyphen M,” was named after his beloved wife, Ella Maria. He also constructed a boat with one of his closest friends, the late Msgr. George Sharkey, that was named “Anne,” after the priest’s mother.

In July 1974, Dr. McDermott died at the age of 74. In addition to his daughter, his survivors include his son, Dr. Vincent T. McDermott, Jr. who served as president of Our Lady of Lourdes medical staff in 1982, Msgr. Robert McDermott, pastor of St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral in Camden, and his great-nephew.

Msgr. McDermott called his great-uncle an “iconic” man, who was well-respected by all who knew him. “He accomplished a great deal, without show,” Msgr. McDermott said.

Researched by Peter G. Sánchez

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