One of the things I will miss most about him is his laugh. Fred had this laugh that often started a a chuckle, and kind of rumbled into a full blown laugh. You could always tell his humor was genuine, as his laugh involved his whole face, particularly his eyes, which would likewise be full of merriment.
Fred Demarest, former Chairman of the Syracuse University Photo Department, passed away some weeks back. He wasn’t laid to rest right away. He had a large and grateful family that needed time to assemble in Syracuse. Fred does have a big family, both literally and figuratively. They say the best use of a life is to build something that lasts beyond that span, and Fred did that, in a significant way. He created the Newhouse School of Journalism photography sequence, which has accrued renown over the years, and has educated many a young photographer. Thousands, in fact. They are part of his family, too.
There have been numerous other professors in the photography department, over the years, and as students do, they would gravitate towards one or the other. Many, I’m sure, found Fred’s avuncular demeanor a tad on the fuddy-duddy side of things and preferred other profs who gave the appearance of being cooler, or more dynamic. I myself always preferred Fred’s quality of advice, patience, the aforementioned laugh, and ultimately, his friendship. He was simply the best teacher I ever had, and an incredibly decent man to boot.
And I will miss him. Thank you, Fred, from my heart. Your faith in a young, misguided, temperamental, rash, clueless young photographer was astounding, especially in light of having very little evidence that faith was warranted. I went to see him when he was in hospice, and we had a great, long talk. He told me he was unafraid. He said, in his wonderfully logical way, “Joe, I’ll be okay, until I’m not okay.” And he chuckled.
I loved him dearly. I owe him much. He was my teacher.