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Saturday, February 18, 2023
Starts at 11:00am (Eastern time)
In Memory of Charles L. Demaree Jr.
Charles L. Demaree Jr, 79, of Stedman, North Carolina or “Chuck” as he was known to his friends and family, passed away in the early morning hours on January 28, 2023, at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Chuck was born on January 13, 1944, in Mobile, Alabama, at the advent of a tumultuous time in America. Born right at the onset of World War II, Chuck’s father and mother, Charles L. Demaree Sr, and Elizabeth J Hardee (Demaree) met at a USO Dance in Mobile on Saturday, December 6, 1941.
The next day, when Charles and “Betty” met up for a romantic walk along Mobile Bay, they heard a broadcast that the Japanese forces had bombed Pearl Harbor Naval Base near Honolulu, Hawaii destroying nearly 20 naval vessels, 300 airplanes and killing more than 2,400 Americans in the attack. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the US Congress to declare war on Japan.
Before Chuck was born, Charles Sr. was called into action overseas with the US Army, taking part in the D-Day invasion, coming ashore on Normandy Beach, France on June 7, 1044, the second day of the allied invasion. Chuck’s father later described running across the beach, trying to take cover, while the German soldiers fired machine guns at the Americans from clifftop bunkers.
In September 1945, Betty Demaree moved Chuck and herself from Alabama to Indiana to be closer to Chuck’s grandmother Ethel who lived in Madison, Indiana. When Chuck was almost 3 years old, his father came home from the war and the family was re-united in Indiana. Chuck’s younger brothers David was born in 1946 and Daniel born in 1954.
In June 1958, the family loaded into a station wagon and drove to Aberdeen, Maryland, where Charles Sr. worked as a civilian Proof Director at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. During that time, Chuck excelled as a swimmer, easily winning several amateur events he entered. Betty urged her son to go to school and train seriously as a swimmer, but his passion from youth was always rebuilding engines for race cars and street cars.
After graduating from Aberdeen High School in the Class of 1962, Chuck enlisted in the US Navy for 4 years, 1962 – 1966, where he was trained to work as an electronic technician, initially stationed on the USS Norton Sound. He was involved in testing some of the first unmanned helicopters that would fly out, fire a torpedo at a target and then return to the ship. Chuck valued his time in the Navy because it gave him the opportunity to travel the world, spending time in California and Oregon and 8 months in the Middle East. At one point, Chuck was wounded in the foot while going ashore in a patrol boat near the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Dave and Dan still recall when Chuck came home, with his foot heavily wrapped and limping.
In 1963, Chuck met Karen Klossner in Paradise, California and the couple were married in 1966. They moved to Menomonie, Wisconsin, where they welcomed their son, Donald A. Demaree in June 1973. At that point, Chuck became heavily involved in the sport of drag racing, first as a driver and then as a crew chief and mechanic. Chuck loved the people of Wisconsin but disliked the long cold winters. After a divorce in 1978, Chuck moved to Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Other than his love of drag racing, Chuck was also an avid reader of suspense and political intrigue novels with some of his favorite authors being John D. McDonald, Louis L’Amour, Wilbur Smith and Dean Koontz.
At the late 1970’s, Chuck worked for AMF Tire Equipment for several years, where he was responsible for helping set up and maintain tire production facilities in North & South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee. Chuck later said that this was one of the most satisfying jobs he ever had.
From 1990 onward, Chuck moved to Burlington, NC, then to Raeford, NC and finally to Stedman, NC, where he spent the last years of his life. Chuck spent his time rebuilding engines for IHRA Drag racing cars and Funny Cars. In his capacity as crew chief, Chuck was fortunate enough to travel to drag races throughout the USA and Canada with special trips to races in Japan, Brazil and Puerto Rico among other countries. Chuck was known as an outstanding engine builder and mechanic, who was popular throughout the racing community.
On Feb, 10, 2022, Chuck suffered a stroke at his home in Stedman, NC and spent the next 11 months being transferred to various hospitals with his last few months spent at Haymount Rehab & Nursing Home, Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Chuck is survived by his ex-wife, Karen Demaree of Platteville, Wisconsin, and their son Donald Demaree and his wife, Elizabeth and son, Ryan Demaree, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He is also survived by his brother David Demaree and his wife Margaret Demaree, of McHenry, Maryland and his youngest brother Daniel Demaree, and his wife Monica and their son Evan Demaree, of New Market, Maryland.
Chuck’s family would like to express their thanks to Chuck’s friends who called often and came to visit Chuck in person during his time in Haymount Nursing Home, especially his girlfriend Lois Croxton and his loyal friends Mack Burris, Troutman, North Carolina; Ivan Mercer of Tennessee and many others.
The family invites you to join them to Celebrate Charles' Life at 11 am on Saturday, February 18, 2023, at Sullivan's Highland Chapel.