Obituary for Donald Demarest
Donald E. Demarest, longtime Hesperus resident, died of natural causes July 7, 2017 at Mercy Regional Medical Center at age 95.
Don was born April 10, 1922 in Englewood N.J. After high school graduation he worked at Tiffany’s in New York City. He would eat lunch in Central Park and dream about living in the country, eventually leading him to Colorado.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, Don enlisted in the Army Signal Corp detached service to the 5th Air Force serving four years in the Pacific theatre. He was scheduled for the advance invasion of Japan when the atomic bomb was dropped.
Upon return, Don married Elma St. James. They followed their dream by moving to Hesperus in 1951, building the Canyon Motel and Coffee Shop (now Kennebec Café). They were welcomed to La Plata Canyon by Elma’s parents and Elma’s cousin Bill and Olga Little. To this union, a son James was born.
Don was active supporting tourism in the Durango area. He was past president of the Durango Motel-Hotel Association and vice-president of the Colorado State Motel Association in Denver. He helped build the original A-frame Chamber of Commerce building on North Main, cleared runs at Hesperus Ski Area, assisted in designating Highway 160 as the Navajo Trail, and more.
He was a location scout for 30 years for the California movie companies. He had the privilege of working on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Around the World in 80 Days, and many others. This was rich treasure for a consummate storyteller.
He worked as scout and guide for Louis L’Amour, becoming good friends with the family for 20 years. Louis dedicated the book, Over on the Dryside, “To Don Demarest, Companion of the High Country.”
Don’s greatest joy was his family. His wife Elma preceded him in death in 1971. He is survived by son James (Pat); grandson James (Elisa), great grandson, James Edward; granddaughter Kathryn Connor (Will), great grandson, George; and granddaughter Jennifer Kerns (Sean).