Ronald Emerson DeMao, Sr., a man of great faith, a dedicated family man, and a gift to the golf community of Richmond and beyond, passed away peacefully surrounded by family at Reid Hospital on March 12, 2022. Ron was born June 6, 1935, in Arnold, Pennsylvania to Salvatore and Loretta DeMao who preceded him in death.
At the age of 12, his family moved to Richmond and built a home where his backyard was situated next to Glen Miller Golf Course. It was there he started as a caddie and soon became a caddie master and thus began his love of golf.
During his high school years, he worked at Richmond Elks Country Club, starred on the high school golf team, and graduated from RHS in 1953. He joined the Air Force at the age of 17 and became a high-security-clearance cryptographer during the Korean conflict. While enlisted for four years, he played on the 33rd Division Air Force golf team. After serving in the Air Force he became a PGA member and apprenticed at Broadmoor Country Club in Indianapolis. In 1960 he became head golf pro at South Shore Country Club in Lake Wawasee, IN. During this time in the early and mid-1960s, he played in events on the PGA Tour in California, Louisiana, and other venues.
Moving back to Richmond in 1963 he became head golf pro at Glen Miller Golf Course where his love of golf originated. He had a profound love for teaching juniors the game of golf. During the summer season, every Friday, he held a junior class making sure that each child had one club and ball of their own. Ron established the city junior golf tournament and later made sure that juniors would be allowed to compete in the Richmond City Amateur Championship, no matter what their age or ethnicity. Other contributions to Richmond golf included weekly lady’s beginner’s classes, the Women’s City Amateur Golf Tournament, and the Richmond City Golf Association Tournament. Ron was the first inductee into the Richmond Golf Hall of Fame.
In addition to his many golf activities, during the late 1960s through early 1970s Ron was the sports reporter and photographer for the Palladium-Item. He primarily covered local area high school basketball as well as Earlham College basketball, establishing many lifelong friendships.
Highland Lake Golf Course opened in 1972, having been under his direction from initial planning stages to the day of opening play. As head golf pro he held weekly junior golf academies throughout the summer. He taught and mentored several young men who played on the RHS State Boys Championship teams, including two-time PGA winner Bo VanPelt.
He was always proud of his Italian heritage and for many years hosted the Italian Open at Highland Lake. It initially was a one-day event highlighted by his love for Italian cooking. With Italian music blaring in the background from his favorite crooners, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet and Perry Como, golfers enjoyed his famous Italian meatball and sausage sandwiches. Ultimately this tournament progressed to an almost week-long celebration with family and friends coming from all over the United States. Everyone enjoyed his wonderful cooking including the giant bowls of pasta with red sauce and linguine and clam sauce.
Additionally, during his tenure at Highland Lake, he established and funded the Ron DeMao Eastern Junior Golf Tour that continues every summer for the past 30 years. In 1995 he was awarded the PGA Junior Leadership award by the Indiana PGA. He was proudly certified in 1996 as the 134th Master Golf Professional, an honor earned by only a few hundred golf pros from the over 25,000 now in the profession. In 1996 Ron was honored by then-Governor Evan Bayh with the Sagamore of the Wabash award, the highest civilian honor in the state of Indiana.
Retiring in 1998 he continued to enjoy his beloved game of golf, still playing, teaching, and enjoying his time with family and friends. Having been born in Pennsylvania he had an unending love for the Pittsburg Steelers. He possessed all of the Steelers paraphernalia. Each game was met with either joy or anguish depending upon a victory or a loss but he was always a loyal fan. He was a member of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, PGA of America, Forest Hills Country Club, and American Legion, Post 65 in Richmond, Indiana.
Ron is survived by his wife of 46 years Vicki L. DeMao; children Ronald E. (Julianne) DeMao, Jr. of Tampa, FL; Joni S. (Tim) Hirons; Charise DeMao and Elizabeth DeMao all of Richmond; Del A. DeMao of Carmel, IN.; grandchildren and great-grandchildren Jason (Eliza) DeMao and their son Ryland, Shane (Van) Linkous and their children Novak and Nica, Dominick (Alison) DeMao and their children Brock and Emerson, Michael DeMao all of Tampa, FL; Jenna (Christopher) Stensland and their children Max and Liam, and Julie Anderson all of Indianapolis, sister Carol Snapp and brother Robert (Vicky) DeMao of FL; mother-in-law Inez Beiswanger, Milford, IN and many nieces, nephews, cousins and loyal, lifelong friends. One son Donald A. DeMao and one brother James DeMao preceded Ron in death.
In lieu of flowers or personal items, please make any contributions in memory of Ron DeMao to First Tee of Indiana, 2517 E Main St, Richmond, IN 47374. For a man who loved golf and shared his love of golf with so many others, it is only fitting that his life in Richmond began when he could walk out his back door onto Glen Miller Golf Course and ended with his present home surrounded by the 8th tee and11th green at Forest Hills Country Club.
He will be greatly missed. Services are pending and will be arranged by Stegall-Berheide-Orr Funeral Home. Online condolences may be shared with the family via the guest book at stegallberhiedeorr.com.