Kathleen Elizabeth McDermott Murray

July 21, 1949 - August 6, 2020

Kathy died Thursday, August 6th, from metastatic esophageal cancer, at her home, surrounded by her family, exactly as she wanted.

She was born in Cincinnati on July 21, 1949, to Roger J. McDermott and Jeanette Mahan McDermott. She was the oldest of four children. Her family relocated to Connecticut, and she spent the majority of her childhood in Manchester. She developed a love of travel, spending a summer in Russia as part of an academic trip with Choate-Rosemary Hall, and several weeks in Europe with her Girl Scout troop. She later moved to Washington, D.C. to attend Georgetown University, graduating from the School of Foreign Service in 1971 and the Georgetown University Law Center in 1974. She was the proudest of Georgetown alumnae (Hoya Saxa!) and delighted in passing on her love for the school to her younger daughter, Mary Rose, and the next generation of Hoyas.

An accomplished attorney, she spent a year as the 1st law clerk to the administrative judges at the Federal Trade Commission before joining Collier, Shannon, Rill, and Scott, where she was the second female lawyer at the firm, and where she would later become Partner. She then took a job as General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer at American Stores in Salt Lake City, Utah, and retired in 2006 from another General Counsel position at Nash Finch Company. Retirement did nothing to slow her down, and her calendar remained very full. She did Pro Bono work for the Holy Cross Ministries of Utah, where she helped families seeking political asylum in the United States. She was extremely active in the Utah Women’s Forum, and loved connecting all the important women in her life to each other. She also stayed physically active, skiing, running a marathon at 57, and attending Pilates and Body Pump many times a week, where she met and added even more friends to a full roster.

She married Michael Murray on November 28, 1981 and had Caitlin (Katie) in 1983 and Mary Rose in 1987. Although she insisted that we state that she ‘had her faults’, she was a most excellent wife and mother, and in 2010, became an even better grandmother. She filled all of our lives with stories and adventures. Birthdays were celebrated all birth month, and she always had room for one more at the Christmas dinner table. She liked nothing more than having her whole crew around, all around the world. One of her very favorite places was Bermuda, where she and Mike, and then the girls, and then the grandchildren, spent many happy summers with very dear friends, the only failure being her inability to get a tan. She and Mike also traveled to China after she had learned Chinese ‘for fun’, and she took many trips with her family to the ancestral homeland (Ireland). She was an exuberantly proud Irishwoman, and if music was playing in the house, it was very likely to be Celtic.

It is impossible to put into words the myriad accomplishments she achieved, or the amount that she was admired, loved, respected, and quite frankly, slightly feared by those who knew her. She was indomitable and indefatigable. She kept us on our toes, and we are, and the world is, much better for having had her. She is survived by Mike, the love of her life, her daughters, Katie Oderda and Mary Rose Carey, daughter-in-law, Julia Oderda and son-in-law, Kevin Carey (with whom she delighted in sparring) and the true joys of her recent years, her grandchildren, Owen, Elliott, and Margaret Oderda, as well as her sisters, Anne McDermott Geers (Mark) and Eileen McDermott, brother, R. Dennis McDermott, her Oderda and Carey in-laws, who she loved as if they were her own, and many long-time friends who are too many to name.
We want to extend our gratitude to Dr. David Griffin, Dr. Scott Samuelson and his team at Utah Cancer Specialists, and the team from Rocky Mountain Hospice for the care they provided her over the last years. We are grateful for their time and attention (and patience).

A wake celebrating her life will be held on Tuesday, August 11th, from 6-9pm at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 S. 900 E., Salt Lake City. To ensure compliance with current social distancing guidelines, we kindly ask that you call the funeral parlor at 801-474-9119, between the hours of 9am-5 pm, to make a reservation for the time you wish to attend. The courtesy of wearing a mask is requested. A graveside committal will follow on Wednesday, August 12th at 12pm, at Mount Calvary Cemetery, 275 U Street, Salt Lake City. 

Due to the current health climate, we understand if you wish not to attend, as she would never expect you to jeopardize the health and safety of you or your family during this time. We will continue to celebrate her memory for years to come, and will have a party befitting a McDermott when it is safer.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Voices for Utah Children or Medecins Sans Frontieres.