The secret life of Francis Demaske

Monday, May 8th, 2017 at 4:34 PM
The secret life of Francis Demaske by Hannah McDonald

Over the span of 11 years, a young man, who started as a high school football player and college architecture hopeful, maintained a successful powerlifting hobby.

The sport, which requires hours of dedication in the weight room and training, separates competitors into weight classes before completing the three lifts: a squat, a bench press and a dead lift. In the North American Championships, the powerlifter won several accolades along with taking fourth in nationals for his weight class and winning a couple state titles.

“So I was really involved in that, and then all of a sudden, I hit that point and was just like, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” said Francis Demaske, an illustration and graphic design instructor at Edinboro University.

It was a strange series of events that led Demaske to begin teaching in his early 30s.

In his words, it began “by accident.” Before beginning his own undergraduate degree, he got a call from Kent State, where he was to attend, telling him he had to pick up a physics class in order to be a part of their architecture program. Without it, the school would still accept him, but into the graphic design program.

“So, I’m like ok. I don’t have time to do this (take the physics class)...so I guess I’ll be a graphic designer,” Demaske said.

From there, another random occurrence led him to teaching.

“I applied to grad school and they asked me in the application what I was planning to do with my graduate degree,” Demaske said. “So I basically just made it up. I said, ‘Well I want to teach!’ And so they came back two weeks later and they said ‘well we have a teaching assistantship available if you want it.’”

The position was a chance that Demaske couldn’t pass up, despite being terrified of speaking in front of groups of people.

“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go...but I did it anyway,” he explained. Taking the job meant the school would pay for his degree as well as give him a stipend.

“It’s a lot of chance occurrences,” Demaske said of how he got here, sitting in an office at a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, surrounded by colorful paintings and illustrations.

These days, instead of competitively powerlifting in his free time, this professor makes time to golf every day, despite having a long commute.

(In fact, Demaske told The Spectator he’s driven over one million miles getting to and from work over the years from Cleveland, which remains his home).

“I am an avid golfer,” Demaske said. “Like my commute, which is crazy, I never miss a day of golfing. If it’s minus 10 degrees, below zero, I find a place where I can go and hit balls. All the driving ranges know me.”

At school the multi-talented artist enjoys painting and working on graphic design endeavors, on his massive commute to and from work, he makes time to golf a little, and while at his home, Demaske meticulously keeps up two antique cars. He owns a 1950 Chrysler Windsor and a 1961 Thunderbird, both in sparkling condition.

The one he calls “Tweety Bird” — because of its buttery color, turquoise emblem and the white details — is a place of much pride for the designer. Contrasted to the deep black of the Chrysler, which he has owned since 1984, “Tweety” pops off photographs, no matter the backdrop. The car has chrome detailing and the tires have a thin red line, accenting the white and black.

“This is the way it came,” Demaske said of the car. “This couple in New Jersey bought it brand new in ’61 and so they would go to meets and stuff,” he continued. The pair kept the car care up for shows, but when the husband died, the wife didn’t drive and the beautiful, buttery car was put away. That is when Demaske ended up buying it.

With cars, golf, painting, teaching and three hours of driving a day, Demaske’s plate is quite full. Yet with it all, he says he’s never really
had a problem balancing work and personal endeavors.

“You must be efficient. Don’t waste any minute,” he said of this time management.

A long time ago, Demaske made a promise to himself to do one thing for himself each and every day. Be it golf, exercise, work on his cars or paint, he makes time for himself. Instead of letting life as a college professor consume him, he spends hours doing things that are fulfilling and make his life more enjoyable.

For him and many others, although a job may be pleasing, it is not the most important aspect in their life. As of now, painting is what Demaske finds most fulfilling outside of the classroom, but he says it is always changing. Some days painting is his favorite, other days it may be something entirely different.

No matter the activity, weather or mood though, Demaske is sure to fill his life with things other than work. 

Hannah McDonald is the voices editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com. 

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