Dermot Eustace McNair Southwell was born in Montserrat on December 24, 1937 to Ada Coipel Heron and Paul Southwell.

His childhood was influenced by Gwendolyn Robin Cable, and Hillinda and Ismay Stronach. Ismay, or Nurse Stronach, instilled in him a sense of civic responsibility; and Hilli ensured that he had the domestic skills to be independent and well-rounded.

After graduating from the Dominica Grammar School, Dermot joined the staff of the Public Works Department and was assigned to the Pond Casse road project. He later supported the construction of Melville Hall Airport. His education continued in Trinidad where he studied Air Traffic Control and later advanced Air Traffic Control Management in England. Dermot was Assistant Manager and Manager of the Melville Hall Airport for over a decade.

In 1973, he accepted a position with J. Astaphan & Co. Ltd. and later was the manager of Dominica Timbers Ltd. During his time with Astaphans and Dominica Timbers, he furthered his education in personnel management and industrial relations in Trinidad, and became deeply involved in various community organizations. He was a member of the Rotary Club and the St. George's Lodge where he served as Master. He was Chairman of the Carnival Organizing Committee and the National Development Corporation. Dermot was also President of the Employers Federation and briefly the Caribbean Employers Confederation.

In 1990 he was invited to be a Minister of Cabinet with the Dominica Freedom Party under Prime Minister Dame Eugenia Charles. In his later years, he served on the boards of Dominica Electricity Services (DOMLEC), Dominica Social Security and the National Bank of Dominica. He was Chairman of the Dominica Air and Sea Ports Authority and finally of the Integrity in Public Office Commission under President Charles Savarin.

Throughout his life, Dermot remained an active member of the Bethesda Methodist Church. He was a Congregational Steward, Chairman of the Property Stewards and actively supported the Church's music ministry. He was also a member of the River Song Choir.

Dermot was a friend and mentor to many people. He loved his family and was a devoted husband to Alison and proud father to Gillian, Wendy, Karen, Deanne and Dermot Jr. Family, faith and community were the cornerstones of his life. He lived with integrity, was a true gentleman and treated everyone with dignity and respect.

(From Official Funeral and Burial Service Programme)