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Demmer: A True Spartan Family

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When John Demmer attended Michigan State University in the 1940s, followed by his founding of the Demmer Corporation in Lansing in 1950, no one at the university knew at the time the dramatic impact the Demmer family would have on campus in the nearly 60 years that followed. The tremendous success of the company combined with a passion for everything Spartan has resulted in John, his late wife Marnie, their sons Bill and Ed, and their daughter Peg, becoming a family of stellar MSU contributors.

John and his wife Marnie, who passed away in 2007, supported a variety of areas over many years including Spartan athletic programs, WKAR TV, the Mildred B. Erickson Fellowship, and especially the MSU Formula Racing Team in the College of Engineering.

Coming from a family of longtime sportsmen, John and Marnie also provided principal support for the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting Sports, Education and Training Center, a new facility that will open in early 2009. The 23,000-square-foot, multi-purpose facility will support NCAA shooting programs and team sports, the National Archery in the Schools Program, and hunter safety and 4-H youth programs. It will also house club shooting sports - including small-bore, air rifle and archery - and academic programs in shooting sports, law enforcement and related curricula.

"It feels great to be helping Michigan State University bring a world class facility to its campus for the promotion of shooting sports," John said. "My wife, Marnie, and I met at MSU prior to World War II, and the university has been a very important part of our lives ever since. It has been our fondest wish that this spectacular facility will help inspire respect for the shooting sports and that it will be replicated at other institutions."

The Demmer Corporation that John began is a stamping, tooling, fabrication and assembly company that operates in eight plants in Michigan with over 1,500,000 square feet of available manufacturing floor space. John still serves the company as chairman.

Bill Demmer (Engineering, '70) is president and chief executive officer of Demmer Corporation, and his wife, Linda, is an artist. Bill has often served the university in advisory capacities, and Linda is an active volunteer including work as a member of the host committee of the annual Twilight in the Garden event which raises funds for the Kresge Art Museum.

As avid art collectors, they recognized immediately that the new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum will have a transformative effect on the entire community. To that end, they pledged a significant gift to name a gallery in the new art museum.

"The Broad Art Museum is truly a wonderful cultural addition to Michigan State University and the greater Lansing community," Bill said. "Linda and I find great inspiration from and pleasure in the arts, and to support such a wonderful undertaking as the Broad Art Museum is an opportunity for us to share our enthusiasm."

Bill is translating his love of the outdoors into gifts to MSU as well. "I am also working with Dr. Bill Taylor in bringing an endowed chair to his Fisheries and Wildlife department in the name of Boone and Crockett, the oldest conservation organization in North America," Bill noted. "I am also working with Dr. Taylor and Dr. Tom Coon in Extension to bring a Boone and Crockett position to the extension service, and I have committed to the university the necessary funding requirements for both."

Bill and Linda, along with Bill's brother Ed and his wife, Laura, as well as their sister, Peg, are also major contributors to the multipurpose shooting facility that bears their parents' names. Collectively, they have given a substantial amount of the total $3.5 million raised for construction of the facility and the program that is part of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Peg (Demmer) Breuer (Education, '73) recently retired from teaching at a local private school in San Antonio, Texas, where she lives with her husband, Brad. Ed Demmer serves the Demmer Corporation as vice president.

Ed and Laura have made a significant gift to name the Head Coach's Office in the Duffy Daugherty Football Building expansion, the project that will double the size of the existing weight room, add new meeting rooms, coaches' offices, a student athlete lounge and a Hall of Fame lobby. In addition to his financial support, Ed has proven helpful to Spartan Athletics in many ways, always eager to help new initiatives flourish.

The entire Demmer family has consistently shown that they are a true Spartan family, and perhaps the best example is their most recent commitment: a major contribution to the Daugherty football facility project. The gift, which is in addition to Ed and Laura's previous contribution, is being provided collectively by John, Bill and Linda, Ed and Laura Demmer and Peg (Demmer) Breuer. The gift will name, in their honor, the Demmer Family Hall of History.

The time, talents and resources of the members of the Demmer family have been generously shared with MSU in a variety of ways. It is stating the obvious that their impact will be felt on campus for generations to come.

Bill summed up for the family why they find it so easy to give to MSU. "We are proud," he said, "to live and work in a community where its citizens find pleasure in the arts, the theatre, natural resources, and college athletics but also in their association with a world-class university."