ROYAL DEMERSNovember 8, 2017
Royal Demers, 96, died on November 8, 2017 in Bonita Springs, FL.
Formerly of West Warwick and Coventry, RI, he was the beloved husband of the late Elaine (Corbin) Demers and is survived by three daughters and their spouses:
Linda and Clifford Wardle, Donna and Clifford Royal, and Giselle and Charles Antonelli, all of Florida. He also leaves two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, three step-great-grandchildren; two sisters, Harriet Peterson of NJ and Gertrude Wollner of WI; and is predeceased by brothers Leo, Gerard, and Raymond Demers of West Warwick.
When their daughters married and moved from the unique Demers log home in Coventry, Elaine and Roy decided to head south during cold New England winters. For many years they typified the classic “snowbirds,” enjoying the warmth and conviviality of Florida sunshine, family, and friends. Sometime in March they would return to Rhode Island in time to witness the crocuses in their yard peek through the spring snow.
Mr. Demers was a WWII Army Veteran who proudly served his country for six years in multiple venues, including the Asiatic Pacific, European-African-Middle Eastern, and American Theaters. He was awarded the American Defense Service Medal, the Philippines Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Service Star and numerous other commendations and campaign awards. With little prompting, Roy would fondly reminisce about his wartime experiences in France, the Philippines, Italy, Fiji, and especially Tahiti. At age 94, he participated in the national Honor Flight Network program. Visiting Washington, DC as an honored veteran of the Greatest Generation stood out as a treasured memory of his latter years.
Having worked for 31 years after the war as a Quonset Point aircraft mechanic, Roy could not be content to ease into retirement. Instead, for eight years thereafter, on every school day, he would greet the youngsters who climbed onto the Coventry School Department special needs bus he drove to various schools throughout the state, including the Trudeau Center, Meeting Street, and Cornerstone School. His calm, kind, and patient demeanor, coupled with his inherent good humor and sound judgment, made him eminently qualified for such a position. This was a mutually beneficial relationship for all parties and brought further joy to his life. He so loved his bus and his precious charges.
Roy was renowned for owning many top-of-the-line, special edition “Cool Cars.” He painstakingly cared for each of his four-wheeled babies until they sparkled inside and out and were the envy of all. His manner of caring for his automobiles seemed to reflect his principled, warm, loving character.
For many years Royal Demers spent three days a week exercising and swimming at his beloved American Health Fitness Center. And despite his advanced age, he always drove himself. Because he became such an important part of that facility, the business hosted a special surprise birthday party for him prior to his relocating to Florida in 2016. He loved sharing a cold Narragansett Lager or Ale with his many friends, and they all raised a glass to him on this memorable occasion. Upon his arrival in Florida, he doggedly searched for a restaurant that offered his preferred RI beer and finally found only one, which was, of course, owned and staffed by a family from his hometown of West Warwick. Naturally, he befriended them.
No matter where he resided, Mr. Demers endeared himself to all. At Brookdale Centre of New England in Coventry, he gathered his friends around the cribbage board he had constructed and taught them the essentials of the game. He organized sporadic poker games, pool tournaments and similar activities that modeled his active and social nature. He was resourceful and energetic and was always there to encourage others. When he moved to Brookdale in Florida, he did not miss a beat and continued to shine in his new environment. Beloved by residents and staff there as well, Royal was regarded as his name would seem to dictate…as royalty. His family was pleased to learn that he would be specially honored there during the facility’s Veterans Day ceremonies on November 11.
Pepere Demers relished his time with his grandchildren, Jeffrey and Bethany, and would spend hours walking and talking with them. His passing prompted them to reflect on a few favorite moments: driving to the beach in a convertible; walking to a nearby pond to feed the ducks, bread in bag; and countless breakfasts at local eateries. Instead of driving to breakfast, Roy would often walk two or more miles with his grandkids. Such a trek often led to deep conversation and many discoveries. The most vivid of all was the walk across a frozen Lake Tiogue to breakfast at Appetites. When great- grandchildren arrived, he always greeted them with assorted chocolate candies from a bowl he kept especially for them and maybe for his notable sweet tooth as well. All generations of Pep’s family recall that he was never grandiose but instead created many, little, caring, wonderful moments that made him a huge presence in their lives.
Royal Demers always sported a smile and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
Incredibly social, he had a gift for bringing people together and teaching them how to enjoy life. He loved to laugh and make others smile and will be deeply missed by all whose lives he touched.
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to his Funeral Service on Thursday, November 30 at 10 a.m. at Iannotti Funeral Home, Coventry. Inurnment will follow at noon at RI Veterans Cemetery, Exeter. Visiting hours will be held Wednesday, November 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to The Autism Project, 1516 Atwood Avenue, Johnston, RI 02919 (www.theautismproject.org) would be greatly appreciated.