Lora "Babe" Demaray was born on Feb. 16, 1934 in Lame Deer, Montana. She was an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and grew up on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Lora went home to be with the Lord on Friday, July 5 after living with Alzheimer’s disease for almost 10 years. Lora is survived by her husband of 64 years, Richard "Dick" Demaray who was her constant companion, caretaker and champion for all of those years. Babe and Dick raised six kids together, Richard and Terri Demaray of Colstrip; Jon and Mary Ann Demaray of Colstrip; Dan and Kris Demaray of Billings; Ron and Peggy Demaray of Phoenix, Arizona; Robin and Lynda Demaray of Billings; and, Laurie (Demaray) and Roger Bruckner of Billings. They have 24 grandkids and 26 great-grandkids so far. She was preceded in death by her older brother Robert (Jr.) Livingston, her younger brother Philip Livingston and her two younger sisters Bonnie Pipe and Ruthie Davies. She has too many nieces, nephews, and cousins to mention.
Her parents, Robert and Gail (Bolson) Livingston ran a sawmill in Lame Deer where Lora attended grade school. While in the eighth grade, the sawmill was converted to a portable mill and moved to the hills around Ashland. There were no school busses to High Schools in Ashland or Broadus in the late 1940’s and early 50’s so she did not attend High School.
Lora was able to attend bible school at Freeman, South Dakota; the Bible Standards Institute in Eugene Oregon, and later Montana Institute of the Bible in Billings. In 1955, while working as a waitress at the Billings Depot, she met Dick Demaray and they were married in Busby. They raised six children, five boys and one girl, together. In the mid-1960’s the Northern Cheyenne Tribe issued a $1,000 per capita payment. It was like a dream come true. Lora had wanted to go back to school so she asked the Tribe to send her check directly to Eastern Montana College. She took her G.E.D. and began classes in the fall of 1965.
She attended classes mostly in the evenings when her husband was home to care for the kids and would study late at night after everyone had gone to bed. The children were 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9 at the time but she managed to do what she had to; not for just one quarter, but for 5 full years! She graduated with Honors, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education in 1970 and moved back to Lame Deer to work for the Tribe in the Follow-Through Program for four years during which time she helped several people on the reservation to acquire college degrees. Due to illness in the family, she moved back to Billings and took a job at EMC in the Career Opportunity Program (COP), helping Native American men and women work toward their own degrees in Education.
When the COP program ended, she seized upon an opportunity to continue her education and earned a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education at Montana State University while driving back and forth to Bozeman for classes two and sometimes three days a week. She went on and took additional classes toward her Doctorate but during her final Semester, she received a call from Dull Knife College in Lame Deer asking her if she would serve as an Administrator at the College. Since her education had been largely funded by the Tribe, she felt obligated to take the job and did not finish her PHD due to not finishing her dissertation. She worked at Dull Knife for three years as their Dean of Student Services where she continued to encourage students to continue their education.
Babe and Dick moved to Havre in 1990 due to a relocation on Dick’s job. They returned to Billings in 1996 with much anticipation regarding what might lie ahead. In 2001 Dick and Babe purchased a very large pile of logs to start building their ‘retirement home.’ With a massive amount of labor from Dick and his ‘boys,’ they finished their log home in 2005 and finally moved into their forever-home. Babe and Dick enjoyed their new home, their children, grand-children, and even great-grand-children coming and going all the time. They hosted numerous birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and family reunions at ‘the Ranch.’ Sheep, horses, cows, chickens and four-wheelers were a common sight, and everyone was always welcomed with open arms.
In 2012 Babe was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Her last years were bittersweet, filled with visits and travel; grandchildren and great-grandchildren; hugs and tears. Dick watched over his wife with a fierce love uncommon to his age. Babe died in her sleep with him by her side.
Babe loved people and she loved God and was an example to us all. One day we will see more of the influence she had on her Tribe, her family and her friends. Until then we will carry on in the ways she taught us.
A Memorial Service will be held at the FEFC Church at 401 Custer in Billings, MT at 10:30 on Saturday, July 13. See the Dahl Funeral Home website for the full obituary: www.dahlfuneralchapel.com