Elizabeth S. “Betsy” Demaray, age 60, of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, died peacefully in her sleep, Friday, January 25, 2013 at her home after suffering a lengthy illness, surrounded by her loving family. Betsy was born August 11, 1952 in Green Bay, Wisconsin to John Joseph Boyer and Marion Strahl Boyer. Betsy lived her childhood in Panama, Bailey’s Harbor, Wisconsin, and Marquette, Michigan before making Sault Ste. Marie her home. She graduated from Sault Area High School in 1970 and attended Lake Superior State University, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
In 1971, Betsy married Ken Demaray and the couple have two children. Betsy spent many years working in commercial lending, and in 1996 she joined Smith & Company Real Estate as an associate broker. In 2012, Betsy celebrated 34 years as a licensed real estate professional. In addition, she owned and operated several businesses in the community, providing accounting, real estate appraisal and property management services, and operating two motels and a fitness studio. Inasmuch as Betsy loved the challenge of vocational opportunity, she also loved community service, both in the Sault and around the world.
Some of Betsy’s activities included volunteer projects in her Rotary Club, president of the United Way of Chippewa County and EUP Board of Realtors. She was active in numerous organizations including New Hope House, Sault Downtown Development Authority, and Chippewa County EDC. She has served as a trustee for the LSSU Foundation and was currently serving as trustee on the War Memorial Hospital Board of Directors. Betsy was a member of the Central United Methodist Church and spent many years as director of Central’s Bells of Praise hand bell choir. In 1986, Betsy was named one of the top five woman entrepreneurs in the State of Michigan, receiving the Athena Award, and was honored more recently by LSSU as Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. She also established a scholarship at LSSU for returning business students.
Betsy’s service to the world community began in 1988 when she joined the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie, which led her on a humanitarian journey to serve people worldwide through Rotary International. She became a Rotarian shortly after women were permitted membership and served as club president in 1994 and again in 2007. Betsy helped spearhead an effort to place a bronze statue in Sault Ste. Marie, honoring Pickford, Michigan born, Rotary International’s 1954 president and Sault High graduate, Herbert J. Taylor, author of the “Four Way Test” used by Rotarians worldwide.
Betsy served Rotary on many local and regional committees, and in 2000, was elected to oversee some 60 Rotary clubs across Michigan and Ontario, Canada. She and Ken have traveled extensively for Rotary worldwide and have been involved in humanitarian projects in many countries, as well as being host parents to six Rotary foreign exchange students. For her many efforts, Betsy was recognized by Rotary with the rare “Service Above Self” Award.
Most recently, she was chosen to represent hundreds of Rotary clubs in the northern U.S. by joining the 19 member Board of Directors of Rotary International for 2011-13. In 2012, Betsy was appointed as the Treasurer of Rotary International, the first woman to ever serve as an officer of the organization in its 107 year history. One of the highlights of her Rotary life was this past April, when she gave a speech at the White House. Rotary International has 1.2 million members and over 34,000 Rotary clubs in 200 countries and territories around the world.
Along with her work and volunteer activities, Betsy also enjoyed time with her children and grandchildren. She liked to kayak, canoe, camp, and enjoyed the outdoors. She also liked to sew. Betsy was committed to making the world community better through service. Her hard work, thoughtful nature, and positive attitude will be sadly missed by her family, coworkers, neighbors, fellow Rotarians, and her thousands of friends around the world.
Betsy is survived by her husband, Ken Demaray; son and daughter-in-law, Eric and Kathy Demaray; daughter and son-in-law, Tina and Scott Nason; grandchildren, Brianna, Connor, Vance, and Liam; her mother, Marion Strahl Boyer (98); and her mother-in-law, Thelma Demaray (95), all of Sault Ste. Marie. Betsy was preceded in death by her father, John Boyer.
Visitation will be held Sunday, February 3 from 3:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. and Monday, February 4 from 11:00 A.M. until 2:00 P.M. at the Central United Methodist Church, 111 E. Spruce Street in Sault Ste. Marie. Funeral services will begin at 2:00 P.M on Monday, February 4 at the Central United Methodist Church with Pastor Rodney Clark conducting the service.
Memorial donations may be made to the Bells of Praise, United Methodist Church, 111 E. Spruce St., Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, or The Rotary Foundation, 14280 Collections Center Dr., Chicago, IL 60693. A tribute gift form may be found online at www.rotary.org.