Ice Network

DeMore's contributions to the sport monumental

Former USFS president responsible for moving headquarters to Colorado
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Charles DeMore (second from right) served the sport of figure skating in numerous capacities over several decades. Here he's seen with daughter Lainie (left), Benjamin Wright (second from left), wife Elaine (middle) and Wright's wife Mary Louise (right). -courtesy of U.S. Figure Skating

Charles DeMore was well known in the figure skating community for being a key figure on many fronts -- as a former U.S. Figure Skating president and an ISU Council member, for relocating the U.S. Figure Skating headquarters from Boston to Colorado Springs, Colo., and for being a U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame inductee.

But to his daughter, Lainie, he was known mainly as dad.

Although DeMore, known by his friends simply as "Chuck," was extremely busy with his civil engineering job and his behind-the-scenes work in figure skating, he always made time to take Lainie to early-morning skating practices or to competitions in Lake Placid, N.Y.

"I remember skating as a kid, working on figure tests and having to go to patch sessions at 6 a.m.," Lainie said. "He never complained. He would take me and he would sit and do his work, and then he'd take me to school. I was not a very good free skater. I enjoyed figures and dance, and my parents knew that's what I wanted to do and they both supported that."

That is what Lainie will remember and cherish most about her father, who died Oct. 2 at the age of 90 after a short illness and for whom a memorial Mass will be celebrated Wednesday in his hometown of Cleveland. His wife, Elaine, an Olympic and world judge, died in March 2012.

Although Charles had been ill, Lainie said she did not believe her father's death was imminent. In fact, she had been planning on being an accountant at the Eastern Great Lakes Regional Figure Skating Championships this week in Louisville, Ky. 

"He was not feeling well at the end of August and was in the hospital for a few days," Lainie said. "He was doing fine, and [his death] was unexpected; it was sudden. But he went peacefully."

Charles DeMore was born in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights in 1923 and graduated from Cleveland Heights High School in 1943. He was a lacrosse player before he ever became involved in figure skating, making All-America in the sport at Syracuse University.

But then he met a woman named Elaine O'Donnell at a church group function, and everything changed. Elaine was a figure skater, and they began to skate together. They married in 1953 and, according to Lainie, one of the first things they did after their wedding was join the Cleveland Skating Club.

He quickly adapted to the ice, passing his pre-silver ice dance test and attending several Lake Placid dance weeks. He even won the F. Ritter Shumway Veterans Dance event three consecutive years, with different partners each year. He could not compete with his wife because of age rules.

While Elaine pursued the route of judging and officiating, Chuck made a successful path on the administrative side of the sport. He became involved with the Cleveland Skating Club and served as co-chair of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which were held in Cleveland in 1964 (the year Peggy Fleming won the first of her five U.S. titles).

In 1968, he was appointed a national accountant and that same year became a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Executive Committee. DeMore was chair of the Amateur Status Committee from 1968-71 and later the International Committee from 1971-74.

In 1976, he was elected president of U.S. Figure Skating (then known as the U.S. Figure Skating Association). Arguably the most notable contribution DeMore made to the sport was helping move the headquarters of the association from Boston to Colorado Springs in 1979. He was instrumental in securing the property, financing the project and assisting with the construction of the new building. The United States Olympic Committee had moved from New York City to Colorado Springs shortly before U.S. Figure Skating made its move out west, and DeMore believed strongly that the figure skating community should follow the USOC's lead.

"I think I am most proud of him for that … that building in Colorado Springs," Lainie said. "And I think he was most proud of that as well."

U.S. Figure Skating continues to be operated out of that building today.

He began to become involved with figure skating on an international level. He chaired the world championships when they were held in Colorado Springs in 1975, and in 1980 he served as the technical chairman for the Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid. He was a team leader at five world championships and became a member of the International Skating Union's Council from 1980-94.

For all of his efforts made to the sport, DeMore was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame during the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Saint Paul, Minn.

"It's hard to imagine his life without skating," Lainie said.