Annette Sherman DeRito, a former humanitarian aid worker in Africa, died Friday in her Olney home after a short battle with liver cancer. She was 55.
Mrs. DeRito vowed to dedicate her life to the less fortunate, said a sister, Kate Miller of Short Hills, N.J. "She was appalled by the poverty and injustice," Mrs. Miller said. "She decided that that is what she was going to dedicate her life to."
Annette Dilworth was born in Washington. Her father was a decorated World War II pilot, and her mother worked for the Treasury Department. After graduating from Loyola University in New Orleans in 1974, she joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to Cameroon.
During her stay in Cameroon, she met Paul DeRito, and they were married in a traditional wedding of that country.
The couple returned to the United States and eventually went to Djibouti in East Africa, where she worked for the U.S. Embassy, assisting Ethiopian refuges and arranging for their sponsorship in the U.S. through the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration.
In 1995, Mrs. DeRito became part of a team that established the inspector general's office of the Social Security Administration in Baltimore.
A year later, she was diagnosed with throat cancer, and her larynx was removed. In 2002, her neck and both of her legs were broken in a major car accident in the parking lot at her workplace.
She retired from the Social Security Administration in March after 13 years of service.
A memorial service will be held this summer.
In addition to her husband and sister, survivors include a brother, Garnett Alan Dilworth of Beltsville; and two other sisters, Regina Pond of Rockville and Margaret Randle of Glenwood.