Ron Demer '59, a True Gentleman
Alumni Association Announces 2009 True Gentleman of NY Alpha Award

The following speech was delivered by Svante Myrick '09 at the alumni reception during the June 2009 reunion:

I was delighted to hear that Ron Demer was selected as this year's True Gentleman. In truth I was relieved. Ron can reasonably be considered the True Gentleman of the Year each and every year the award is given. Such consistency can, unfortunately, make one easy to overlook for an annual honor.

I was even more delighted to be able to speak about Ron. How to decide what to say? I graduated last month and Ron has been a consistent brother in my life and in the life of all the undergraduates in our time here. He seemed to be there at every turn in my Cornell career.

He was there when I entered Sigma Alpha Epsilon at a very difficult time. Our house was in great danger of losing its place on Hillcrest. I, a freshman, watched as Ron and Eminent Archon James Norton '08 steered our house from the brink of disaster.

He was there over the next three years making the deepest of connections with even the most unlikely of brothers. He was there for meetings on campus, and midnight emergency phone calls. When I was Eminent Deputy Archon he was an invaluable guide. When I served on the Interfraternity Council he was a constant source of support and advice.

And he was there last year when I had two rather pleasant surprises in one day. The first surprise -- I was inducted into Quill and Dagger. The second -- Ron was there to congratulate and welcome me. This year I became President, and he became President of the Quill and Dagger Alumni Association. This was the first time in 120 years of history that both Presidents have been from the same fraternity. I am most proud that I could share the distinction with Ron. He seemed to be there at every turn in my Cornell career. And my experience is not unique within our brotherhood. So the question is, given just a few minutes, what can one say about Ron? What makes him such a special part of our brotherhood? He is dedicated, he is hardworking -- but what truly sets him apart is his unique disposition.

Ron can best be described as a bulldog. Ron is the best kind of friend, but he is not someone you want upset with you. Hell hath no fury like Ron when he knows that he is right. He is ready and willing to take brothers to task when they fail to behave as True Gentleman. He speaks bluntly when necessary -- as a brother should. You will know that he is disappointed in you, and that he expects more of you, no matter what your age or position in the house. Being an SAE is both an honor and a privilege, and Ron demands that you earn both. Not just while pledging, but through your lifetime of membership.

Yet even as he shows you your error, his arm is already around your shoulder. While his words are still harsh -- his face has already softened. You know that he has not yet given up on you, or on the brotherhood. He will be there to help you fix your mistake and help the brotherhood find its way. He will protect this house, and it's brothers, with everything he has.

He has been our bulldog, he has been our lion, and he has been our brother. He is a True Gentleman.

From the Fall 2009 New York Alpha News:

We are pleased to report that Ron Demer '59 was recognized at his 50th Reunion as the 2009 NY Alpha Alumni Association recipient of the True Gentleman of New York Alpha Award.

Ron first saw Cornell when the Lehigh Valley train from Hoboken came over South Hill on a beautiful September day in 1955. The lake stretched out ahead, the late afternoon sun was low over the West Hill farms, and the campus buildings were gold in the sunlight on the Hill. Then three days of songs, friends, and fun at frosh camp. He loved it from the beginning. His class was the first to experience January (deferred) rushing, and he pledged SAE—campus leaders and wonderful guys; his best friends to this day. He lived at Hillcrest for three years.

Ron's 43-year varied business career has included stints with IBM, a major NYC ad agency, a computer time-sharing company, a Raytheon division where he ran a captive leasing business, two years at the Department of Commerce, and cable TV financing and operations.

He was commissioned in the U.S. Army Reserve, and he received an MBA from Harvard in 1964. An active Cornell alumnus, he served as class of 1959 president and reunion chair, and president of the Cornell Alumni Clubs of Boston and Atlanta. He is currently the president of the Quill & Dagger Alumni Association and is the SAE chapter adviser.

His home is two miles north of Hillcrest and regularly welcomes NY Alpha alumni. His guests have included Curtis Reis '56, John MacGuffie '56, Robert Hutchins '56, Peter Huberth '56, Phil Monroe '57, Roy Hassel '57, Richard Melnotte '57, Stewart Maurer '57, William Stitt '58, Robert Knechtel '58, George Bullwinkel '58, John Tracy '58, Richard Rogus '59, James Glenn '59, James Hobson '59, Kent Hewitt '59, Bill Kingston '59, Howie Miller '59, James Day '59, David Ryan '62, Fritz Brauner '62, Bill Jordan '62, Asa Stackhouse '61, and Ted Munday '59.

Ron was presented with a plaque to commemorate his award during reunion festivities at Hillcrest this past June. Congratulations, Ron! You're a True Gentleman!