Saturday, March 27, 1999


Bobbye McDermott,
71, ‘told the world’
about Hawaii

By Harold Morse


Bobbye Hughes McDermott, Hawaii author, travel writer and public relations and business leader, died at her Honolulu home late Tuesday after a lengthy illness. She was 71.

She and husband John McDermott wrote 10 travel books and published hundreds of articles -- roaming the world more than 20 years for material. She founded Communications-Pacific, Hawaii's oldest and largest public relations firm, in 1969.

Bill Cook, second owner of Comunications-Pacifc, said her contributions were substantial.

"One of the things that has been said about her, and I endorse it: She came to Hawaii and liked it and told the world," he said.

"When she first got here, there were no hotels on the Kona-Kohala Coast -- and now there are 4,000-plus hotel rooms. She brought a degree of professionalism to public relations," he added.

Born in Lufkin, Texas, she grew up in Center, Texas, earning a bachelor's in journalism at Texas Women's University.

One of her early jobs was with the Community Chest of Greater Dallas.

She then became a paid-by-the-word correspondent for the then six Fairchild Publications, including "Women's Wear Daily," "Men's Wear" and "Housewares News."

Later, she entered public relations with a Dallas firm that represented oil, beef, banking, insurance, fashions and furniture industries.

Moving to Hawaii in 1958, she went to work for the Fawcett McDermott ad agency to do publicity for the Ala Moana Center opening She later joined the Milici ad agency to start its public relations division.

In 1969, she opened Communications-Pacific, her own firm, with its first and largest client Honolulu Gas Co. and owner Jim Gary.

Known for her straightforward advice and creativity, she also blended in a touch of charm.

The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was another early client. The hotel was the scene of her surprise wedding to advertising executive John McDermott in 1973.

Bobbye McDermott, a leader in the national Society of American Travel Writers, was inducted into the Public Relations Society of America Hall of Honor in 1998. Also in 1998, she became part of Communications-Pacific again, in planning the opening of the Nieman Marcus outlet at Ala Moana.

She is survived by her husband; daughters Denise McDermott-Adler and Madeleine McDermott; sister Kim Dawson; brother Jay Hughes; and one grandchild.

There will be a "Breakfast with Bobbye" memorial gathering at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Outrigger Canoe Club. All friends are invited. A private memorial service is planned.

The family suggests contributions be made to the American Cancer Society or St. Francis Hospice.

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