May 30, 1925 – June 7, 2022

Russel Demmans passed away peacefully on June 7, 2022 with his family by his side. 

He is lovingly survived by his children: Verna (Dean) Hart and their daughter Crystal (Taras), Ivan (Julie) and their children Sheldon (Lori), Jenna (Chris) and Lacey (Blair); Elwood (Brenda) and their children Derrick (Bethany), Dayna (Duffy) and Danielle (Brett); siblings: George (Marg), Lillian Schell, Raymond (Fern), Roy (Laura), Dorothy Gottlob, Gary (Rose), Bette (Reg) Iverson, Joan (George) Robinson; sisters-in-law: Lona Hirtz and Grace Bowerman; great grandchildren: Isabella, Jade, Cassidy, Kira, Emery, Beckson, Madison, Jordynn, Kaycee, Wren, Emeric, Liam, Bradley, Riley, Kalie, Scarlett, Blair, Bridgette, Wyatt and Oaklynn. 

He was predeceased by parents: Joe and Beatrice Demmans; wife: Jean Demmans; sister: Sadie Wilson; brothers-in-law: Roy Wilson, Phil Bowerman, Joe Schell, Paul Gottlob and Frank Hirtz.

Grandpa was born on May 30, 1925 in St. Brieux, SK on a farm on the south side of Basin Lake. He went to school at the Ronka Lake School until grade 5, then moved to Meadow Lake in the fall of 1936. When the house was finished being built that fall, they moved in and got started schooling at the Morin Creek School. Grandpa remembered starting to clear the land the next spring with axes and grub hoes. Then they broke the land for the first few years with a steam engine. The boys had the job to follow the breaking plow and keeping the brush and roots clear on the coulter so they wouldn’t plug. There was always some hot spots and sparks landing on them which kept them on their toes. They also harvested the crops with a team of horses; using horse binders to cut the crop, then stacked the bundles into stookes and allowed them to cure. Then the threshing machine and team and racks came along and threshed the grain. 

Grandpa always loved swathing and helped Ivan out with haying until he was 87 years old. He had one of the first self-propelled Cockshutt swathers around town back in the day. In his retired years he would be up as early as 3:30 am so he could swath, then get into seniors golf tee off time at 9:30 am. Grandpa played a lot of baseball in his younger years with the Morin Creek neighbours and his siblings. They went in many tournaments, and as he said they won their “fair share” of games. Verna and Ivan remember going to ball tournaments as young kids and watching both Russel and Jean play. It wasn’t until the Demmans Reunion at the farm in 1995 that I saw Grandpa in action. He had some pretty good form I was thinking for a Grandpa (even though thinking back I know he wasn’t THAT old), and in his competitive nature as usual he had to slide into the base to make sure he didn’t get tagged out. Elwood remembers curling with both his dad and mom at the Morin Creek Curling Rink and surrounding areas. When Gramps wasn’t farming, you could find him out fishing with friends and family.

There were a few years when Grandpa worked in the bush at Edson, AB and also on the fish haul in Beauval/Buffalo Narrows, SK. He also worked at the Federal Elevator in Meadow Lake. 

Grandpa and Grandma both loved to dance. Not surprisingly Russel met Jean Bowerman at a barn dance at John Twidale’s when they were 19. They dated for six years and got married May 2, 1951. They settled down in the Braeval district, which is where the farm yard is to this day. They farmed and raised cattle. Gramps was sure a tough cookie that’s for sure. From handling cattle, to throwing rocks, to even having a round bale fall on him!

He always loved Christmas time too. There was always a big tree hunt to find the nicest tree for the house. It didn’t matter how tall the tree was, as long as the top looked good as they could top it off. When asked how he was doing, he would come back with FAIR to MIDDLIN. There were many berry picking trips and you didn’t come back until your pails were full. Grandpa always had the cleanest berries. 

Growing up Grandpa and Grandma were there for every activity and event along the way. From 4-H to curling, they loved watching and supporting their grandchildren. Every holiday we spent together. Christmas morning was always a big ham and egg breakfast and gifts. Then we would hang out together all day and have a big dinner in the living room with the BIG table so we would all fit. Christmas isn’t quite the same these years without the morning gathering at the Farm House. I guess those were the good old days when we didn’t even know that they were the good old days. Gramps was always up for a round of golf too. At one point he actually had built his own little golf course out in the pasture by the house. There were many rounds of golf we did together over the years.

You know we were pretty darn lucky to grow up next door to you Gramps. You showed us what hard work looked like and always seemed to have this calm approach to everything you did. You loved your whole family and created many great traditions in the house and farmyard that you built. You were strong inside and out and were always a strong force in the family. You were always making jokes and giving us a good laugh.

The years went by fast. Although we know you are much more comfortable now, that doesn’t mean the sting of losing you doesn’t hurt any less. We know you are back with Grandma, who was always by your side. Until we meet again, we will choose to remember and celebrate the amazing life you led and the legacy that you left behind.

      He never finished school

       but he finished every job

       he ever started.

       He grew his own food, not because

       it was the “new way”

       but because it was the only way.

       He lived through times when

       money and food was sparse,

       but his kids never missed a meal…

       although he did.

       He’s seen droughts, tornados, floods,

       fires and wind destroy his farm, but he

       never gave up.

       If he had two dollars to his name,

       he would give it to you,

       if you were in need.

       He’s a grandfather, father,

       uncle, brother, and friend.

A celebration of Russel’s life was held at the Alliance Church on June 7, 2022 with Pastor James Witherow officiating.

Cards of Thanks

The family would like to thank the many people who sent food, flowers and condolences, as well as the many acts of kindness. Special thanks to James for the service, Troy Demmans for singing “On The Wings of a Dove”, to the nursing staff at the Northland Pioneers Lodge—your kindness and special care to Russel will never be forgotten. Thank you to Ellen Oleksuik for the lunch and Darcy and Kelty at J. E. Thomas Funeral Home & Crematorium Ltd for their understanding and help.

Verna & Dean, Ivan & Julie, Elwood & Brenda