By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Businessman and Dearborn community leader Jack Demmer died at age 93 Tuesday, Jan. 31, after a battle with lymphoma.
He was home, surrounded by family members, his granddaughter Jacqueline Demmer said.
Demmer was born in Detroit on July 10, 1923, where he grew up working at his father’s used car lot. By the age of 16 he sold his first car, a 1935 Ford Coupe. for $135 making a $7.50 profit.
He then enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a member of the Sino-American Cooperative Organization after World War II began.
When he returned from the war, Demmer attended Wayne State University where he studied business and met his future wife, Margaret, on a blind date arranged by her brother-in-law.
In 1948, the two married and the settled into their house in Dearborn to start a family three years later.
They became members of the Church of Divine Child and Demmer later on established the Monsignor Herbert Weier Scholarship Program to honor the founding pastor and provide support for the high school’s graduates.
By 1957, Demmer co-founded an Edsel dealership in Wayne, but when Ford Motor Co. discontinued the Edsel in 1960 he and his partner acquired a Ford-Mercury dealership in South Lyon.
With the success of the dealership, Demmer and his partner moved to Wayne where Demmer’s sons, Bill and Jim, began working for their father in 1975.
The Wayne dealership became known as Jack Demmer Ford and an expansion followed with a location in Farmington Hills in 1998.
Two years later, Demmer and Margaret relocated to Dearborn after they were able to acquire one of the biggest Lincoln-Mercury dealerships in the county, Krug Lincoln-Mercury.
As a result, the Farmington Hills location was closed and relocated to Dearborn.
Today, the dealerships are known as the Jack Demmer Automotive Group.
Grandchildren Matt and Jackie Demmer also became involved in the family business.
Recently, Demmer was unable to physically make it in to the dealerships so he would call the Dearborn and Wayne locations to check how many vehicles were being sold.
Demmer was a member or served with the Dearborn Kiwanis Club, Church of Divine Child, Dearborn Country Club, Starfish Family Services, Oakwood Foundation, Canton Community Foundation, Wayne Chamber of Commerce, and Kelly’s Kidz.
He was very active, enjoyed playing golf and tennis, taking family trips to Mackinac Island and Disney World where he loved to take photos documenting the moments.
Demmer is survived by his wife of 68 years, Margaret, his children Patricia Groszko, Susan Hermann, Bill, Jim, Marianne Nelson and Jean Zick along with 21 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Monsignor Herbert Weier Scholarship Charitable Trust, Kelly’s Kidz Foundation, Penrickton Center for Blind Children, Starfish Family Services or to Angela Hospice.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])