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Elsie Joy (James) DeMars, 81, winged her way to heaven and into the waiting arms of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on September 9, 2022. She is now clothed in Glory joining her husband, David Frank DeMars (2009) and three of her five children, Russell Allen DeMars (1977), Cindy Lou (DeMars) Cory (2013), and Darla Jean (DeMars) Czyz (2018), who preceded her in death.
Born in Polson, Montana on November 7, 1940 to Lyle James and Esther (Davis) James, Elsie lived her early life in the Polson area with her brother Larry and a gaggle of first cousins. She married David Frank DeMars of Libby, on her 16th birthday. Their family quickly expanded with three daughters and a son by her 20th birthday. A second son was born six years later.
They spent their early married years in Libby where Dave worked long hours and Elsie became a home maker, which she successfully fashioned out of nothing but sheer will, given very limited resources. In 1970 they moved to a 40 acre farm in BigFork. There Elsie worked tirelessly raising her five children, while also running the family farm where they grew and preserved a huge garden, milked cows, raised and butchered chickens, cattle, and hogs.
A third generation Montanan, Elsie taught her children self-sufficiency and modeled self-sacrifice throughout her life, never uttering a word of complaint or fostering a condemning voice. She never asked anyone for anything yet was the first to give whatever was needed to whomever needed it for whatever reason it was needed.
After raising her children, she left the farm and made her mark in the business world despite lacking a formal education. She became a very successful bookkeeper in a variety of businesses. She was loyal to the core and while she never sought praise, she remains highly esteemed in that community.
Her life and family fell apart when, at age 37, she lost her first-borne son at the tender age of 17. After the months of agony that followed, the Lord spoke to Elsie audibly, saying, “Russell is my concern now. I have other work for you to do”. And Elsie was, yet again, forever changed. Thus began her walk with Christ.
Her work began with self recovery in an Al-Anon program as she went on to support her family through their own recoveries. Having a love of writing, she journaled about that work, specifically her walk with her Lord, and the lives of her family. Elsie fostered her journalling habit for the rest of her life. Meanwhile she played a vital role in the lives of her 7 grandchildren, passing on to them her many passions including painting, baking, and Bible study.
Following the 2009 death of her husband Dave, Elsie moved to Plains where she shaped a life fully her own. And, again, she made her mark. She became active in the Methodist Church and founded a still-active cross denominational Bible Study. Her love of painting inspired her to engage with the local arts community and she became one of the original members of the Paradise Elementry School Preservation Committee. She loved to “give”… her time, her money, her talent.
Her daughter, Gin Weber, moved in with her following the death of Gin’s husband in December 2014. Shortly after Elsie began to slow down following a bad fall in 2016 and another in 2018. While still sharp as a tack, her declining physical health took its toll the last year of her life. She longed for her Savior and her family in heaven whom she ulimately joined on her own terms, passing peacefully in September after refusing medical intervention for her ongoing health issues. She was visably totally at peace, her 81 year old face not holding onto one single wrinkle. Now Elsie resides in Glory, having finished the work her Lord had given her to do. She will always be remembered for her unwavering faith, strength, and selflessness.
Elsie is survived by her youngest daughter, Gin Weber of Plains; her youngest son Dale DeMars of Post Falls, Idaho; her siblings, Larry James of Cairo, Egypt and Patsy McLeod of Troy; seven grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren as well as, undoubtedly, many first cousins.
There will be two Celebrations of Life for Elsie. The first will be held at the Methodist Church in Plains on Thursday, May 25th at 3:00 PM. for her beloved friends and acquaintances here. The second will be held at the Real Life Church (formerly, the Little Brown Church) in Bigfork on Tuesday, May 30th at 3:00 PM. for her many friends and family in the Flathead Valley. At the latter service both Elsie and her husband Dave will be laid to rest next to their son Russell at Lone Pine Cemetery.
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