We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Conneely Family Cremation & Funeral Services
Jeffery R. Demarest—biologist, naturalist, world traveler, great cook, and bon vivant—passed suddenly and unexpectedly on January 12, 2022, at his home in Healdsburg, CA. Martha Noble, Jeff's wife of 36 years, was beside him. He is dearly missed by his wife, countless friends, and colleagues from across the country and beyond.
Jeff was born on May 10, 1946, to Pete and Catherine Demarest in Harrington Park, NJ. During the Vietnam War, he served as a military policeman in Guam. It was there that he developed his keen observations of the natural world, a skill that would become a large part of his professional life and enhance his enjoyment of daily nature walks.
In 1975, Jeff began his Ph.D. studies in the Department of Physiology at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. His work with salt and water balance in the life history of fish led him to the UC Bodega Marine Laboratory (BML) in Sonoma County, just north of San Francisco. This became the perfect setting to collect and observe fish (and all marine life) while making life-long friends and colleagues. One of those whom he met at BML was Martha Noble, a Stanford graduate student who was studying fish behavior. Martha and Jeff married in 1986. Jeff was proud of his French heritage and enjoyed being called a Noble-Demarest.
After completing his doctorate, Jeff and Martha became itinerant academics as Jeff pursued post-doctoral positions across the country, first landing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and then at the University of California, Los Angeles. In the later 1980s they moved to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where Jeff was appointed as a professor in the biology department. There he served as the department chair while Martha taught agricultural law. Jeff next received an appointment as a professor at Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA. Martha remained in Arkansas until she moved to Washington D.C., to focus on agricultural law. The two commuted back and forth on weekends between their Huntingdon country home and their D.C. apartment. During these years, Jeff developed a fondness for the D.C. museums, bookstores, walks, and restaurants.
As a naturalist, Jeff was fascinated by the biology, chemistry, and physiology of all things in the kitchen, including beer. During a sabbatical from Juniata, he spent a semester earning a teaching credential in fermentation science from UC Davis. He took this expertise back to Juniata where he initiated a course in brewery science. Several of his students have become very successful in the craft beer industry. Late in his career, Jeff served as chair in the college's biology department. His outstanding communication skills, insight into many disciplines, and great sense of humor provided excellent links between his teaching, research, and administration work.
International travel was important to Jeff. Together, he and Martha enjoyed visiting New Zealand and a variety of European countries. Jeff also employed travel in his teaching when he conducted class trips to Mexico, France, and other countries.
As Jeff approached retirement, he and Martha decided to return to Sonoma County, which they both loved. In 2011, they purchased a house in Healdsburg. In their new location close to the Russian River, Jeff would often walk along the river path into the town center. While completing his doctoral work at BML in the 1970s, Jeff began exploring the Sonoma Coast for mushrooms. In retirement these mushroom foraging walks—primarily in the Salt Point State Park area—became a focused seasonal hobby that he enjoyed with close marine lab friends.
Jeff is sorely missed by his cherished wife Martha, brother Steve, all of Martha's family, numerous friends, and many colleagues. He is survived by his cache of fine wines and special beers.
A memorial event where Jeff's ashes are spread will be held at a future date when stories of Jeff's remarkable life and his influence on so many friends, colleagues, and students can be shared.
Jeff would appreciate that any donations in his memory be made to the Undergraduate Student Support Fund at the Bodega Marine Laboratory: https://marinescience.ucdavis.edu/ways-to-give#StudentSupport or Habitat for Humanity Sonoma County at www.habitatsoco.org.