By Joan Goodchild, Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – When Joseph M. DeMaria passed away in 2001, his family knew they wanted to find a way to keep his legacy alive in the town of Shrewsbury, his hometown for his entire 63 years of life.
As a result, the DeMaria family, including sons Frank, Tony, Joe and Paul, teamed up with the Shrewsbury Public School System and launched a scholarship fund to award academic scholarships to Shrewsbury resident students.
“My father was a big advocate of continuing education,” Frank said. “Because of that, we kept it open to all students. There are no restrictions on who can apply. Any Shrewsbury High School student is eligible.”
The first DeMaria Scholarship Golf Outing to raise money for the scholarship took place in 2002.
“He coached a lot of youth sports in town,” Frank said. “He was a Shrewsbury Town Meeting member and just loved being around people. So this type of event just seemed like a good fit.”
So far, the DeMaria Scholarship fund has awarded approximately $30,000 to Shrewsbury students, about $3,000 a year. Frank said that Dotty Flynn, who works in the business offices of Shrewsbury Public Schools, has been essential in helping the scholarship succeed, as she has handled the administration duties around the fund over the years.
The golf event, played for many years at Pine Ridge Country Club and then most recently at Juniper Hill Golf Course, has gained a reputation for being a fun gathering with a lot of camaraderie among participants. Frank said his wife, Lesa, helped the event grow and gain more recognition by learning web design and creating a website for the scholarship.
“As things evolved over the years, we got to a point where we almost had to close it off to more participants because so many people wanted to play,” Frank said. “It would have made my father so happy because it was a real Shrewsbury event, and so many people wanted to take part.”
Despite its success, though, on Aug. 19, the DeMaria family held its 10th and final DeMaria Scholarship Golf Outing. While smaller-scale events may be planned in the future, Frank said the golf outing has reached its end.
The scholarship fund has now amassed $95,000 – enough to continue awarding scholarships for many more years, further keeping Joseph DeMaria's legacy alive. “It's been a great experience,” Frank said, “but in 10 years, I feel we reached our goal.”