Sunderland, MA — Charles Oneil Demers, 91, died peacefully on April 29, 2021 after a long and accomplished life. He was born on October 29, 1929 in Chicopee, MA, the only child of Ovila and Juliette (Deroy) Demers.
Chuck attended Mt. Carmel Elementary in Willimansett and graduated from Holy Rosary High School in Holyoke in 1948. After completing a post graduate year at Suffield Academy in CT, he matriculated at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he was a member of the varsity football team and the ROTC. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and following graduation, and his marriage to Kathleen Wierciszewski, he began a three-year tour of duty at Camp Lejeune, NC. He retired at the rank of first lieutenant in 1956.
Chuck began what was to be his life-long career as a professional athletic trainer in 1956 in Minor League Baseball. He worked first for the New Orleans, LA Pelicans (a NY Yankee affiliate) and then with the Springfield, MA Giants (a San Francisco affiliate). He decided that a career in professional sports was not a good fit for his family and he accepted a position at his alma mater. After three years at UMass, he moved north to Deerfield Academy where he spent the next thirty-five years, retiring in 1999.
While at Deerfield, Chuck was fortunate to be able to take time away from the Academy, not only because of the school year schedule, but also because of the unwavering support of the school's administration, to pursue many professional development opportunities. He served as a trainer for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich and the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico City. He was appointed to the 1980 Moscow Games, but the US boycotted that event. Chuck was the coordinator of medical staff at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid. He was also a host trainer at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Chuck spent many summers at NFL training camps, working with the New York Jets, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. After retiring from Deerfield, he was a volunteer football trainer for the University of New Hampshire's football team, where his grandsons Brian and Brent Barbato played, for seven years. Chuck came full circle in 2007, as the last group of athletes to benefit from his seasoned skills were the members of the UMass football team.
Chuck was a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) for over 60 years. He was inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame in 1983, and the Athletic Trainers of MA Hall of Fame in 2010. Colleagues would attribute his success to his passion, tremendous work ethic, and commitment to professional development, as well as his devotion to the well -being of his charges, whether they were high school, college, Olympic or professional athletes. Chuck was humbled by the extraordinary opportunities and accolades afforded him and he commented often how fortunate he was to have a career he loved.
Chuck, a devout Catholic, was a communicant at the Holy Family Parish in South Deerfield, MA. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus and the South Deerfield Polish American Club, where he enjoyed participating in Pitch tournaments. Chuck was an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics and fishing. He held the family record for catching the largest fish.
Chuck's greatest love was the one he felt for his family. He was a patient, kind, generous and caring patriarch and a wonderful example to his heirs. They loved his dry sense of humor and greatly appreciated his sage advice and unwavering support. Chuck is survived by his wife of 67 years, Kathleen, of Sunderland, MA. She was the love of his life, his best friend, a loyal supporter of his many adventures away from home, and a kind and patient caregiver during the last chapter of his life. He also leaves three daughters, Kathleen Barbato and husband, Dennis, of Plymouth, MA; Debra Dohrmann of Rockport, ME; and Lisa Wesolowski and husband, John, of Hampton, NH; his grandchildren, Brian Barbato and wife, Carly, of Deerfield, MA; Brent Barbato and wife, Julia, of Salisbury, CT; Bridgette Malinosky and husband, Tim, of Plymouth, MA; Benjamin Dohrmann and wife, Katherine, of Pasadena, CA; Anna McIver and husband, Matthew, of Rockport, ME ; Matthew Wesolowski and wife, Jennifer, of West Islip, NY and Jocelyn Wesolowski, of Manchester, NH; and his great-grandchildren, Charlie, Teddy, Blair, Bryn, Annika, Caleb, Alma, Benji, Sophia and Olivia. He was predeceased by an infant daughter, Julie Ann, and a son-in-law, Richard Dohrmann. He also leaves his special aunt and uncle, Doris and Roger Simard of Ludlow, MA and many cousins.
Funeral services will be private. Wrisley Funeral Home is assisting the family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a scholarship fund in memory of Chuck Demers to be awarded to a student/athlete from Frontier Regional School through the South Deerfield Polish American Citizens Club, P.O. Box 154, South Deerfield, MA 01373.
Published by The Recorder on May 20, 2021.