James “Jim” Demarest passed away peacefully at the University of Michigan Hospital surrounded by his wife and two children. Jim was a fighter, and even after major open-heart surgery in October he bounced back, ready to go, but he just couldn’t win the fight.
Jim was born June 8, 1958 to William and A. Lugene Demarest in Battle Creek, Michigan. On August 26, 1978, he married Denise M. Sygnecki. They have two children Christopher “CJ” Demarest (Emily Plodzik), and Stephanie Cornish (Zack Cornish), both of Battle Creek. He was proceeded in death by his father, William, in 1986. He is survived by his mother, his wife, two children, three grandchildren Emily, Austin and Anthony Demarest (all of Battle Creek), a brother (Thomas and Ann Demarest of North Carolina), and several special nieces and nephews.
Jim graduated from Springfield High School in 1976, and attended both Kellogg Community College and Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Police Academy, studying Law Enforcement and he obtained a Certificate of Training from the State of Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Training Council in 1978. He then attended the National Fire Academy. He served as a Bedford Township police officer and firefighter from 1977-1985 and as Emmett Township Firefighter.
He served many years to the Emmett Township Community, first as an Emmett Township Trustee, and then as the elected Emmett Township Supervisor for over 16 years. During his time as Supervisor, he participated in and served many years as Chairman of the Battle Creek Area Transportation Study Policy Committee, Chairman of the Battle Creek Area Metropolitan Services Agency, a Liaison member of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority State of Michigan Pool.
Following that, Jim spent 8 years working side-by-side with his wife, ensuring Happy House Gift Shop (formerly Lakeview Card & Gift Shop) ran smoothly. Most recently, he was employed by Calhoun County Medical Care Facility and Marian E. Burch Adult Day Care as the MDOT Liaison and Driver Coordinator.
It is safe to say that Jim left a lasting impression on anyone who met him. He was a lifelong Battle Creek area resident. He took pride in his community and was active in many organizations over the years.
Following in his Father’s footsteps, Jim has proudly served as a Director on the Board of Directors for Kellogg Community Credit Union from 1987 until his death.
He was co-founder of the Springfield High School Alumni Association and planned many alumni events, keeping the history of Springfield alive over the years. He was inducted into the Battle Creek Central High School Hall of Fame, which recognized his work with Springfield Alumni Association and outstanding achievements and contributions to the community, and the Battle Creek Amateur Baseball Wall of Fame recognizing his high school, KCC, and years spent playing baseball and his accomplishments.
Jim was also instrumental in securing a multi-year agreement with the National Amateur Baseball Federation and the South Michigan Amateur Baseball Association to host the NABF World Series in Battle Creek for the last several years.
Jim believed in his community and served the Columbia Ave Business Association, presenting many programs to service groups about the importance of keeping things local.
While his kids were growing up, he was a true Harper Creek Band Dad at heart, there for every performance and making sure all of the band equipment and supplies were safely transported and ready for performances. He never missed a performance, even if it meant listening to a recorded band concert on an old-fashioned tape recorder due to concerts often falling on Township Board Meeting nights. He was also a coach for many of his kids’ sports teams over the years. The last several years he has also been a Girl Scout “grandpa” to Girl Scout Troop 80268, led by his wife, working many booth sales, and other projects with the troop.
He has been active with the Harper Creek Optimist Club for many years, spending over 25 years serving as co-chairman of the annual Christmas Parade committee, and as the Overall Parade Coordinator. He loved parade season, the planning, organizing and seeing it all come together on Parade night.
There is no doubt that Jim will be remembered and missed by many and has left a lasting impact on all who knew him.
Besides his family and community, Jim was a fan of the Detroit Tigers, Michigan State, WWII history, and the many summers he and his wife have spent at Waffle Farm Campground. Jim and Denise also opened their home to several exchange students throughout the years.
A socially-distanced, walk-through visitation will be held on Saturday, January 9, 2020 at Bachman Hebble Funeral Home from 2 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Staff will be taking steps to ensure everyone’s safety, and masks are required. A private family burial will be held at a later date.
The family is planning an outdoor Celebration of Life to honor the legacy Jim leaves behind, with details to be announced at a later date.
The family requests donations be made to James E. Demarest Memorial, in care of Battle Creek Community Foundation, 32 W. Michigan Ave. Suite 1, Battle Creek, MI 49017. Checks can be made out to: BCCF Demarest Memorial, or donations made by visiting https://www.bccfoundation.org/fund/james-e-demarest-memorial-fund