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Love makes a Christmas gift of education

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Love makes a Christmas gift of education

Barbara and Doug DeMaire

Barbara and Doug DeMaire at Dry Falls, N.C. Last Christmas, Barbara gave her husband the gift of a scholarship in their names to the college’s Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department.

What’s the best Christmas gift for your sweetheart when he already has everything?

Barbara (Nice) DeMaire decided that the perfect gift would be a scholarship in her husband Doug’s name to the MU Industrial Engineering Department where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“In trying to think of what to give Doug for Christmas, I just couldn’t come up with anything,” said Barbara, a 1968 graduate of the MU College of Education. “He had just received an engineering magazine and a letter about the MU Annual Fund and it made me think of a scholarship.

“I called the engineering development office, and asked about the requirements for setting up a student scholarship. The requirements seemed doable, and the idea of providing a student scholarship to aid students from southwest Missouri seemed the perfect idea.”

Barbara DeMaire works on a sculpture.

Barbara DeMaire, an accomplished sculptor, works on one of her pieces.

Doug DeMaire plays the banjo.

Doug DeMaire plays one of the banjos from his collection. He has been playing the banjo since before he went to MU, where he and Barbara met.

The DeMaires met at MU, both members of a close-knit circle of friends that spent leisure time together. The group would gather at Max’s Campus Snack on the corner of Ninth and Elm Streets to listen to the bluegrass group, the ”Sixtyniner String Band” in which Doug played the banjo. Both said they had great college experiences and fond memories of their days at the University, but not as couple. While in school, they were just friends and didn’t reconnect until 18 years later, when their life situations had changed.

“Doug was a studious hippie,” said Barbara. “There weren’t many people of that mind in engineering.

With a chuckle, Doug agreed.

“I have a very clear memory of sitting in the Heidelberg warming up before the Tau Beta Pi induction ceremony. I had polished my Bent and wore it on a string of beads,” he said.

Barbara worked as an elementary school teacher after graduation, first in Columbia and then in Jefferson City, a career she said she very much enjoyed. After 17 years, she made the decision to change careers and became a development and fundraising director.

After receiving his master’s degree in industrial engineering in 1969, Doug worked as an industrial engineer for Olin Brass, in East Alton, Ill.  He later held positions in manufacturing, marketing, management systems, and planning for Olin Brass and ultimately served as head of strategic planning for Olin Corporation.

“When the Olin Corporation spun off their defense business in 1995, I was fortunate to be part of it,” said Doug. “They made me president of the new company, Primex Technologies, Inc., and moved me to St. Petersburg, Fla. where the new company’s headquarters were established.

By the time of his promotion, Doug and Barbara had rekindled a friendship that sparked into a marriage and Barbara moved to Florida with Doug.

When General Dynamics acquired Primex in 2001, Doug retired and began consulting work for Olin and has continued in that role.

The DeMaires live in Florida during the winter, but summer finds them in a home they built in the mountains of North Carolina.

Doug plays banjo in a couple of bands and also is a collector of unique and vintage banjos.

“There’s a lot more to banjos than I would have ever known,” teased his wife.

Barbara is an accomplished sculptor who exhibits her female figurative works in galleries in both Florida and North Carolina, which, joked Doug, keeps the wolves from the door.

“You can’t have much more fun than we do,” said Barbara.

Remembering that all of that fun started at Mizzou — and the fact that she has a background in fundraising — influenced Barbara’s choice of a scholarship as Doug’s Christmas present.

“It just seemed like a good idea,” she said.

And Doug, obviously pleased with the novel gift is proud of the fact that the scholarship will help talented students who might not otherwise be financially able to go to college.

“Things have turned out much better for me than I could have hoped. I came from a small high school in Lamar, Mo., with a graduating class of 63 people,” said Doug. “I feel the education that I received at MU was an important building block in whatever successes I have enjoyed.  We want to help others get that opportunity for a great education at MU, particularly those who may need financial assistance.

“With our current donation to initially fund the scholarship, and an additional funding provision in our estate plan, we have established the J. Douglas and Barbara Nice DeMaire Scholarship Fund for exactly that reason.”

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