Richard Demark

Richard John Demark Sr.

September 25th, 1931 - December 17th, 2019
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Richard John DeMark was born September 25th,1931 in Penrose Hospital to James E. DeMark and his wife Nettie (maiden Leone). His parents were both Italian immigrants who met in Northern Colorado while he was homesteading and she was working as a farm hand. They married in Brighton on April 14th, 1920. James went on to become the Chief Pastry Chef for the Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs while his mother took care of the home.

Richard had three siblings, brothers, James and Anthony and a sister Bene. He attended St. Mary’s High school until dropping out by the 9th grade. There he formed a friendship with Ron DellaCroce that would last his entire life.

He first worked as a Mechanics Helper at Adams Cadillac & Dodge Agency from 1945-1947. One of the first jobs he spoke of was taking the bumpers off cars so they could fit on the lifts. After that he worked at Packard Pontiac as a full mechanic until 1949. He went on from 1949 until 1952 at the Buick Dealership working in their body shop. During these years Richard was honing his skills that would later serve him well when he started restoring Hot Rods and vintage vehicles.

He was part of the original Cam Winders club in Colorado that was founded in August 1951 to handle the Colorado Springs “hot rodder” problem. The police and the local racers worked together to solve the problem of them racing the streets and started a club and drag strip. Richard and his future wife, Mary Werner were both well known to the club.

He was also part of the Pikes Peak 4 Wheel Drive Club, and was one of the original racers climbing Pikes Peak. He and many others volunteered to drive the mountain after snow storms looking for stranded vehicles in need of rescue. These clubs helped found many friendships that would stay with Richard through his lifetime.

On March 24th,1952 he joined the Army. While stationed at Ft. Belvoir for training, Mary Werner drove to Virginia so they could be married on May 27th, 1952. He was then transferred to serve in the Korean War with the 151st Engineer Combat Battalion, Company B. He was in charge of the motor pool. His mechanics background was put to use in taking care of 32 dump trucks, 14 Reo Cargo trucks, 1 logan crane, 1 semi-tractor trailer and 2 Caterpillar dozers. He did not speak much of his time in Korea but would talk of the vehicles he maintained and the bridges he and his Battalion would build and or destroy.

In 1954, his wife Mary became ill back home in the states and he was unable to get clearance to come see her. Fearing the worst would happen he went AWOL and returned to Colorado Springs. Due to the reason of his flight from Korea, he was released from Active Duty without separation pay to the Army Reserves and given an honorable discharge with the United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal w/3 bronze service stars and a Good Conduct Medal.

After being released from the service he started Richard DeMark Auto Service in Colorado Springs off of East Costilla. He spoke of the building being a shed with no bathroom or running water. All he had was a toolbox with a handful of wrenches. His undeniable will to work though pulled him through and he built quite the repair shop that specialized in 4-wheel drives, a throwback to his passions and the experience he gained in the military and in his youth. If there was a car that needed fixed, Richard was there and ready to throw his grease stained hands into the engine bay.

Richard and Mary had 1 son, Richard Allen DeMark. Richard and his wife Rhonda gave birth to 1 son, Richard William DeMark, Richard John’s only grandchild. They live in Colorado Springs, CO.

In 1980 he retired and started being part of the more casual automotive scene. You could always find him and his wife Mary with one of their beautiful hot rods. From the 1903 Oldsmobile to the 1934 Ford, they were a staple in the automotive community. He could not be kept from fixing cars long though and had his home garage converted to allow him to work on cars in Falcon, CO. There he restored vehicles, prepared others for sales and performed emissions checks.

His wife Mary passed away March 7th, 2006 from her battle with lung cancer. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, and brothers. He was also one of the last of the icons of the Colorado Springs racing community from the early days.

In 2011 he met a widow named Helga Gurtler. The two quickly formed a friendship that would later become a companionship. They went out to some of the local car shows, visited sites around Colorado Springs that meant a lot to them and stayed around either of each others houses sharing stories and bonding. It helped bring life back into both hearts who had lost their spouses. They were inseparable, and took care of each other.

In 2018 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and after a year decided to begin home hospice care in Helga’s home. There he spent his final days visited by friends and reminiscing of his life. He passed away December 17th, 2019 in the company of Helga, her son Karl and daughter-in-law Lori. He is survived by his son Richard, grandson Richard and nieces and nephews.

A memorial of his life will be held Saturday, January 4th, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. at the Evergreen funeral home in Colorado Springs.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Saturday January 4th, 2020 | 2:00pm
    Saturday January 4th, 2020 2:00pm
    Evergreen Funeral Home
    1830 East Fountain Boulevard
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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