Gary DeMarte: Difference maker and legendIn order to be considered a legend, according to the Lance and Billy Lexicon of Americana, you need to have “made a significant impression on the lives of others, contributed to society in a very positive manner, and must be a person looked upon with wonder, respect, and love by family and friends.
By: By Don Leighton, Superior Telegram
In order to be considered a legend, according to the Lance and Billy Lexicon of Americana, you need to have “made a significant impression on the lives of others, contributed to society in a very positive manner, and must be a person looked upon with wonder, respect, and love by family and friends. One such person who meets these rigid criteria, Gary DeMarte, became a legend in his own time and thankfully in our time, as well. During his 63 years, he truly had a “wonderful life.”
A life full of activity, helping others, adoring his family, and countless unselfish acts came to an end on April 3, 2012 after a courageous battle with cancer. He gave of himself to so many friends and newly made acquaintances needing help of some kind and influenced those he taught and met throughout his life.
Gary taught industrial arts at the Solon Springs High School for 31 years beginning in 1973 until his retirement in 2004. The positive influence he had over the thousands of students he taught or with whom he came in contact cannot be overstated. He was born to teach, instruct, mentor, advise, be a confidant, be a friend and help guide his young students down the road to adulthood. In other words, he is someone you wish you could have had as a teacher.
One of his fellow teachers, Jan Lietha, remembers her co-worker and friend with fondness.
“Gary was a meticulous craftsman and was always making something unique and beautiful. He really worked hard to help his students do the same. He always tried to figure out just what each one needed to be successful. His students built furniture, canoes, scale models of homes and many other projects. They restored classic cars and trucks, and even built an airplane. Gary taught a wide variety of classes such as welding, carpentry, auto restoration, photography, drafting/architecture and numerous others over the years. If a student had a particular interest for a project, Gary would find a way to help him or her do it.”
Gary was born to help others, and that desire became one of his many passions in life. It didn’t matter what it was; it just was in his nature to help.
Lietha continues, “One of Gary’s most endearing qualities was that he was always helping someone. It didn’t matter who it was-family member, friend, student, colleague, or perfect stranger. If help was needed, that was enough for Gary. His attitude was always ‘just do it,’ and he always did with no fanfare. To say that he will be missed just doesn’t seem like enough. He was truly one of the good guys!”
Jan and Ron Wright remember their friend in much the same way. Jan remembers,
“Gary was such a great person, teacher, friend and his sense of humor was incredible,” Jan Wright said. “Ron was a science and biology teacher. Another friend, George Fairfield, taught art and all three occupied the end of a hallway. The three of them had so much fun that they should have paid the district to work there. There is such a long list of people that Gary helped; he could never say no.”
The other member of the “three amigos,” George Fairfield considered Gary his best friend. He was asked to speak at the memorial service and did so because he did not want to let his friend down.
With emotion, Fairfield speaks of his long-time friend.
“My friend, Gary DeMarte, was truly an incredible man and a great teacher. We worked together on many projects during our summer breaks. We helped each other on our various home improvements, as well as enjoying each other’s family celebrations. We went to car shows, swap meets, airshows and much more. That I would speak at his memorial service was his desire and I could not let him down. With tears in my and a lump in my throat, I had a sense that although he was gone, he will always be with me.”
He continues, “A student confided to me that he was not a good student and was afraid he would not graduate. Mr. DeMarte took him under his wing and said, “We can do it!” This student went on to receive A’s in Gary’s classes and he credits Mr. DeMarte with his being able to finish high school and take his well learned skills into the world and become successful. That was the kind of teacher he was. He cared deeply about all of his students.”
These were his exact words at the memorial service.
“He is my best friend. Gary has been a part of our family since we first met him almost 39 years ago. He was an amazing man. I love him like a brother. He is my best friend and I am going to miss him.”
Yes George, Gary will always be with you.
The love of his life and constant companion for 25 years, Julie, considers herself to be the luckiest person on earth for the time she had with Gary.
“It’s hard to put into words what Gary meant to me,” she said. “He was a complete gentleman at all times and very thoughtful of my feelings and those of others. There were not many days in our 25-year marriage that we did not have our morning coffee together. Not one day went by without him telling me he loved me. He was a hard-working, dedicated family man who was completely taken by our grandchildren. He was so proud of our two daughters and their husbands. He treated them like his sons. He was such a great person to all he met. We will all miss him forever, but how lucky we were to have had him in our lives. He taught our kids and grandkids so much about life, and I know those lessons will be continued. Gary will always be with us. I will always love him.”
It’s amazing the effect one person can have on so many people. Gary DeMarte was a very rare individual who felt helping others was more important than tending to his personal needs. How ironic that Julie DeMarte’s favorite movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. There will be tears when thinking of Gary, but those tears will turn to smiles because of the impact he had on his friends and family. As hard as it is to believe right now, it has been, and will always be, a “Wonderful Life.” The legend, Gary DeMarte. has seen to that.