Dr. John E. DeMott

Dr. John DeMott, a professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Memphis and a former member of the news staff of the Kansas City Star, died November 19th, 2014 at Lawrence, Kansas

Memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, November 22, 2014 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence. Private family burial will be held prior to the service at Union Cemetery in Overbrook, KS. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Vera Martin DeMott.

Born August 15, 1923 at Topeka, Kansas, he attended Topeka High school and was graduated in 1942 from the Manual High and Vocational School in Kansas City. He received a BS degree from the University of Kansas, master’s degrees from Kansas City University and the University of Missouri at Kansas City and his PhD from Northwestern University.

Before becoming an educator, he served 16 years as a reporter and editor of news for the Kansas City Star and Times. In 1949 his solution of a murder earned him the coveted “Pall Mall” award for distinguished community service from NBC’s “Big Story” radio broadcast series. He participated in the Star’s coverage of the 1951 Kansas City flood which earned the newspaper a special Pulitzer citation. He is a past president of the Kansas City Press Club.

Upon leaving the Star he taught journalism and other related courses at the University of Kansas, Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University, Temple University, the University of Memphis and the American University in Cairo. He served as the journalism department chairman at both Temple and Memphis. One of his greatest joys was following the careers of his former journalism students and it was not uncommon to see him smile in delight during the national news when one of his former students delivered a story. He remained fiercely loyal to each of his universities and took great pride when one earned an honor or achievement.

Deeply concerned with civil rights, he earned numerous awards throughout his life for his work in race relations and religious tolerance. He was the author of several books, numerous chapters in other books, and countless articles in scholarly and professional journals.

Upon his retirement he returned to his roots and, by design, he and Vera lived for short periods in Topeka and Kansas City before settling down in Lawrence. He loved his family and friends and spent his later years writing articles about the lives of those he loved; publishing the same in annual book which he and Vera distributed.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the American Cancer Society and may be sent in care of the mortuary.


6 Condolences

  1. Bob Sands on November 20, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I knew John for many years and I always enjoyed his company — his fine wit, knowledge and friendliness. I recall our many conversations at the Brooksider where former KC Star journalists gathered for their weekly confabs. Vera would even drive him over from Lawrence. Our sincerest sympathy to the family.

  2. sharon smothers on November 20, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Our favorite Uncle. So kind and intelligent but could talk to anybody on any level. We will miss him so much.

  3. Jennifer Siu on November 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Uncle John was a kind, intelligent man who will be greatly missed. Praying for all the family. As a “step” relation, I was embraced as part of the lovely DeMott family who I cherish. Uncle John was one of the DeMotts that could alway make me laugh. He also listened with great interest to anything anyone had to say. Everyone always knew he cared by the way he listened.

  4. Anita Tingle on November 20, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Vera, so sorry for your loss. I am sorry I will not be able to attend the memorial service, but know my thoughts & prayers are with you.

  5. Elinor Grusin, professor emeritus, Univ. of Memphis on November 21, 2014 at 10:42 am

    My condolences to Vera and to the rest of John’s family. He was a kind and wise colleague at Memphis.

  6. Joe Henderson on November 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    It was always a pleasure to look up from the Wednesday lunch table and see John walking through the door, a reminder of the old days at The Star when it was fun to work there. I’ll miss the friendly conversations we had about KU and K-State. Shirley and I are thinking of you.

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