Opened in September 1967 (with an addition in 1969), this school was named in honor of Mrs. Lillian McDermott (1877-1965), the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors of the Little Rock School District (1922 to 1946). McDermott held its first Open House in April 1968. The building cost approximately $510,000.Photo: Arkansas History Commission
and The Encyclopedia of
Arkansas History & Culture
Born near Little Rock, Lillian Dees McDermott was chief probation officer for the Pulaski County Juvenile Court from 1921 to 1941. During that time, the National Probation Association recognized the court as one of the nation's best. In the Depression years Mrs. McDermott was Arkansas' representative to the President's White House Conference on Children and Youth, served as chair of the women's division of the National Recovery Administration re-employment campaign in Arkansas and was a member of the advisory committee for the United States Children's Bureau.
During her tenure on the LRSD School Board, she served three terms as its president. Records indicate that, during those three terms, "Little Rock High School [now Little Rock Central High School] and Dunbar High School [now Dunbar Magnet Middle School] were built. The New York Times reported that Mrs. McDermott was the first woman ever to sign a million-dollar bond issue when financing was arranged for the buildings."
In 1961 Mrs. McDermott was named the Greater Little Rock Woman of the Year. In 1933 she was named the state chairman of the National Recovery Administration to assist in the comeback after the war, and in 1936 she was named Little Rock's most useful citizen for her unselfish service in her many endeavors. Mrs. McDermott's interest in the Arkansas Children's Home and Hospital led her to holding the offices of chairman of education and financial secretary in that institution. She was instrumental in providing for the disabled children living there.
Williams, Nancy; Whayne, Jeannie M.: Arkansas Biography. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2000; p. 187.
"LR schools named for prominent people," Arkansas Democrat article by Cynthia Howell, 18 Apr 1983; page 10B.
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Updated June 2010