March 7, 1923 - March 12, 2012
Leland A. "Shorty" Demaris, Walla Walla, formerly of Milton-Freewater, passed away March 12, 2012, at the Walla Walla General Hospital at the age of 89 years. Funeral services will be Saturday, March 17, at 10:30 a.m., at the Munselle-Rhodes Funeral Home in Milton-Freewater. Concluding services and interment will be in the Milton-Freewater Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or the St. Mary Regional Cancer Center (Special Needs) through the funeral home.
Mr. Demaris was born March 7, 1923, in Walla Walla, the son of Arch and Bessie Gumm Demaris. He grew up on the family farm located up the Walla Walla River where he began working at an early age. He was nicknamed "Shorty" at an early age when he was running around with his older brother Eugene. When they grew up, Shorty actually grew about 5 inches taller than Eugene, but the name had stuck by then and many people only knew him by his nickname. He attended local schools and graduated from McLoughlin Union High School in 1941. Mr. Demaris joined the U.S. Army June 23, 1943. He served with the 3rd Portable Surgical Hospital in New Guinea and Luzon. He was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal with one Bronze Service Star, Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. He was honorably discharged Jan. 25, 1946, as a technician fourth grade. He returned home and went to work with his father and brother on the farm. In the late 1940s they purchased more acreage in the Gardena area. Irrigation was soon started and, working with his brother, he raised alfalfa in the summer to feed cattle in the winter. He and his brother continued farming both places until 1979 when they retired. Mr. Demaris met his future wife, Ruby Holwager, at a dance at the Natatorium. They married Dec. 28, 1948, in Walla Walla. The couple moved to Milton-Freewater, living there until 1994 when they moved to Pearl Street in Walla Walla to be closer to family.
While living in Milton-Freewater, the couple raised Black Angus cattle, alfalfa seed and hay. Riding horses was probably his favorite hobby. When the kids were little, he liked to do a little calf roping for fun with his friends. He was a member of the Pioneer Posse during the early years, but gave that up when the ranch demanded more time than he had. Mrs. Demaris preceded him in death on Sept. 6, 2007.
He is survived by a son, Dave Demaris of Umapine; a daughter, Donna Boaz of Walla Walla; two grandchildren, Arch Demaris of Milton-Freewater, Amanda Boaz of Walla Walla; numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.