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Remembering Mike McDermott

“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”

These words from The Wizard of Oz are what came to mind for Jim Santorelli as he was remembering our friend and colleague, Mike McDermott. “By that measure, Mike’s heart shines brightly.”

Mike joined the NSCF in 1993 and used to meet at Jim’s apartment to play chess and go over teaching strategies. “Mike was the kindest man,” Jim said. “He once told me that teaching for the NSCF was the most important job he’d ever had.”

A former phys. ed. teacher who absolutely loved teaching chess, Mike would go anywhere to teach any child. His students, parents, and program coordinators all loved him. After his cancer diagnosis kept him from working, Robert McLellan says he was able to tell Mike how often people still asked about him and how much of an impact he had on countless children’s lives. “Mike always approached our work together with genuine joy and appreciation. Others shared that they felt the same and were waiting for him to come back to his classes.”

Writing to us from Norway, the NSCF’s Founder, Sunil Weeramantry shared his thoughts on his colleague for over 30 years. “An organization needs dedicated employees in order to thrive. Mike certainly fit the bill. But he meant so much more than that to the NSCF. He had a way of communicating his love of chess to everyone he touched. The kids just adored him. They loved his stories about Bobby Fischer and Sammy Reshevsky. It was Mike’s way of connecting them to the greater chess world.”

“If a NSCF program was floundering, it would be Mike who was sent there to get the program back on track. He would drive anywhere he had to. Never a complaint. Mike logged more miles for the NSCF than any instructor who has ever worked for us. He was someone who could always be counted on when needed. He was my friend. And I will miss him.”

Mike McDermott passed away on June 5, 2024. He was 74 years old.

Remembering Mike McDermott


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