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Senator Harry DeMaso

February 24, 1921 - January 9, 2015
East Lansing, MI



At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Battle Creek Chapter of the Carson Scholars Fund Inc.
305 W. Chesapeake Avenue, Suite 310
Towson, MD 21204
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Harry A. DeMaso, age 93, passed away peacefully in his East Lansing MI home on Friday, January 9, 2015. He was the retired Michigan Republican State Senator from the 20th Michigan District and was Michigan’s Acting Governor during 1984 Democratic Convention.

The oldest son of Italian immigrants to Battle Creek, MI, the Senator (born Aristide Augustino DeMaso) had a political career in Michigan that spanned 34 years. He began as Battle Creek Township Supervisor, an office he held for 13 years (1952-1965). He served both in the Michigan State House of Representatives (1957-1966) and in the Michigan State Senate (1967-1986). In the Senate, he was Assistant President Pro Tempore (1974), Associate President Pro Tempore (1975-1982), Assistant Minority Leader (1982-1983), and President Pro Tempore (1984-1986). It was in the latter position that he served as Michigan’s acting governor for 4 days when the Democratic Governor and Lieutenant Governor attended the 1984 Democratic Convention.

As Chairman of Michigan’s Senate Finance Committee, the Senator was a key sponsor of the state’s first income tax law in 1967. Later in 1972, in defense of his position on income tax, he stated "It's a lot easier for a governor and legislators to levy a tax on cigarettes, tobacco products, liquor, and beer, than to levy broad-based taxes.” In 1983 with Michigan mired in a recession and facing declining tax revenue, the Senator recognized the necessity of a persistently unpopular income tax hike in order to maintain government spending. Throughout his career, the Senator described himself as a “rebel” who always put Michigan ahead of his own political agenda. Worried about the state’s dire financial situation, he was the only Republican in a Democratic-controlled legislature to vote for the income tax increase. The controversy surrounding the passage of this tax led to the 1983 Michigan tax vote recalls for several politicians; however no challenge was mounted against the Senator.

The Senator pursued the development and implementation of a global economic revitalization strategy designed to “bring the world to Michigan,” which led to Battle Creek’s Fort Custer Industrial Park during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Together with colleagues, the Senator through numerous trade missions to Japan and Germany was able to bring new industries into Battle Creek, which created new jobs. The city’s status as a Port of Entry was made possible through his efforts, which were recognized in Michigan State Senate Resolution 284, honoring his achievements in economic development.

The Senator won numerous civic awards including: Battle Creek Enquirer and News George Award; Michigan Probate Judges and Juvenile Officials Association Award; International Order of DeMolay Honorary Legion of Honor; Michigan Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons Honorary Lay Member; American Legion Hospital Outstanding Service Award; Michigan International Council Certificate of Leadership in International Affairs; Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Club Honorary Ambassador; Michigan Tobacco and Candy Distributors and Vendors Association Golden Ambassador Award; Michigan Society of Planning Officials Presidents Award; and Michigan International Citizen International Council Award. Most recently, he was honored for sixty plus years of service and membership to the Freemasons of Michigan and was inducted into the Battle Creek Central High School Hall of Fame Class of 2012-13.

Following his 1986 retirement from politics, the Senator became the President of Fred Sanders Export Co. and Vice-President of Sanders Confectionery and later President of DeMaso & Associates, Inc., which was a consulting firm designed to promote international business collaborations in the state of Michigan.

The Senator is survived by his loving wife, Marie Ann DeMaso of East Lansing, MI; his two sons with Mary Jayne DeMaso: Dr. David R. DeMaso of Boston, MA and Thomas E. DeMaso of Battle Creek; his grandchildren, Christine M. DeMaso of Somerville, MA, Jeffrey D. DeMaso of Brooklyn, NY, Timothy D. DeMaso of Waltham, MA, and Bryan R. T. DeMaso of Battle Creek; and his great grandson Jeremy DeMaso of Battle Creek.

A commemorative ceremony is being planned for the early Spring 2015. The Senator often said, "I believe in being positive. I also believe that age is a number and that you're only as old as you want to be. You know, your head is the computer; it's your head that decides how your body will function. You have to think healthy to be healthy, then keep moving." In honor of his life dedication to positive civic advocacy for Battle Creek, his family has asked that donations be made to: Battle Creek Chapter of the Carson Scholars Fund, Inc. in the memory of Senator Harry DeMaso, 305 W. Chesapeake Avenue, Suite 310, Towson, MD 21204.