The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 16, 2013

Ashtabula man drowns saving grandson

Paul Demshar well-known in community for being a successful businessman, for his generosity and love for his family

Ashtabula native Paul Demshar died Wednesday while saving his grandson from drowning at a Jacksonville, Fla. beach, family members said.

He was 62 years old.

CPA/President at Paul A. Demshar CPA Inc., Demshar is well-known in the community not only as a successful businessman, but also for his generosity and love for his family.

Shortly after noon Wednesday, he and his wife, Jennifer, were swimming  at Hanna Park with their 10- year-old grandson, Garrett Demshar.

Demshar went into the ocean with the boy when the child started screaming as he was being swept away by a rip current, according to news reports and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Jennifer Demshar also went in the water to help.

Paul Demshar could not hold Garrett and himself above water because he has a torn rotator cuff and he drowned, family members said.

Good Samaritans on the beach helped bring Garrett to shore safely, and an unidentified man with a surfboard brought Paul to the beach. They performed CPR on him for awhile, then the paramedics arrived and took over. He was flown to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, where he died a short time later, according to news reports.

No lifeguards were on duty at the beach.

Paul Demshar’s sister-in-law, Martha Demshar of Jefferson, said Paul couldn’t do enough for others.

“He had a heart,” she said. “He was a devout Christian, a gentleman, we all loved him.”

A member of Ashtabula First Church of the Nazarene, Demshar was active in his church. He was known for helping the downtrodden, giving anonymously to those in need and having many, many friends.

His life’s journey — “The greatest story never told, a true inspiration” by Star Beacon sports editor Don McCormack — ran on Christmas Eve 2009, and chronicled Demshar’s life story.

“Paul Demshar’s life’s story is one of heartbreak ... of perseverance ... of inspiration,” McCormack said.

During the interview, Demshar spoke of how he stops at the cemetery every morning to pray at the grave of his deceased grandson, Clayton, who died before he could enter this world. Clayton was Garrett’s twin and the doctors told the Demshars had it not been for the emergency delivery of the babies, Garrett may not have made it, either, as his umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck.

Demshar said he had come to live by John 15:13 which reads: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

He said he tells Clayton every day at the cemetery that he loves him and thanks him for giving his life.

“Why me?” Demshar said in the article. “Because God loves me...that’s why.”

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