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Remembering our friend and colleague, John Paul Demshar, O.D.

Dr. John Demshar

August 29, 1948 – September 22, 2022

We are saddened to announce that our friend and colleague, Dr. John Demshar, passed away on September 22. John was one of the original partners here at Brookside Optometric Group, and was a vital part of this practice until his retirement in 2019. Since his retirement, he devoted himself fully to his many charitable endeavors, as well as maintaining his connections with his fellow doctors, our staff, and his beloved patients here at Brookside. We have been honored to support his work with Lions in Sight, the Flying Samaritans, his annual Summerfest fundraiser, and the many other causes that he was involved with.

With his family's permission, we have published his obituary here. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to one of the charities linked below in his honor.

John Paul Demshar, known by many as “Dr. John” or “Dr. D,” passed away peacefully on the morning of September 22, 2022, surrounded by his family after a difficult battle with Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia, a rare form of cancer resulting from exposure to Agent Orange while serving for his country in Vietnam. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Debbie; three children, Jeanie, Jonathan (and Edna), and Austin (and Sarah); three grandchildren, Bryce, Murphy, and Ira; siblings Jim (and Vicky) and Joe (and Deena); and many in-laws, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Dr. Demshar was born on August 29, 1948, in Rock Springs, Wyoming, the son of John Sr. and Betty Demshar. He attended Rock Springs High School where he lettered in football and wrestling, graduating in 1966. In 1968, he was drafted into the US Army where he was deployed to South Vietnam in 1969. He was an Infantry foot soldier with the 25th Infantry Division, stationed in Tay Ninh Vietnam. He received the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Army Commendation Medal 1st Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Infantry Badge, and the Air Medal. He attained the rank of Sergeant E-5 after 13 months of active duty.

After serving 13 months in Vietnam, he was honorably discharged and enrolled at Western Wyoming Community College where he received an Associate of Arts degree in 1972. After graduating from University of Wyoming, where he made the Presidents Honor Roll, he was accepted into the School of Optometry at the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated in 1977 with Honors.

In 1978, he opened a private optometric practice in Stockton, California. From 1981 through 1987, he taught part time in the Contact Lens Clinic at UC Berkeley where he was promoted to Assistant Clinical Professor in 1982.

In 1997, he was instrumental in forming Brookside Optometric Group as one of the Senior Partners in California’s largest independent practice of optometry. He served in that role until he retired in 2019.

Dr. Demshar was an amazing humanitarian whose energy and drive to consistently make a difference for others was truly awe-inspiring. His tenure with Flying Samaritans – Central Valley chapter – began in 1991 with his first clinical mission to San Felipe, Baja Mexico. Flying Samaritans is a group of flying doctors responsible for taking care of the medical needs for the needy in the state of Baja. He participated in two clinics annually since that time.

Following his passion, Dr. Demshar signed on as a member of the Mother Lode chapter in 2016 participating in numerous clinics and traveled extensively throughout Mexico (and outside Mexico) for clinics with Lions in Sight. Lions in Sight conducts 12 clinics annually. Clinics in Mexico are typically 4-day clinics and those outside of Mexico are week-long clinics. On the 4-day clinics, between 800-1000 patients are seen by four doctors working 2 days. On the weeklong clinics, 4000-5000 patients are seen by eight doctors working 4 days. In 2010, he became a Lions in Sight board member and its Clinical Director.

Dr. Demshar has conducted clinics in various countries in Central America, and all but 4 countries in South America, plus several more in the Caribbean. In 2004, he was part of a relief team that went to Sri Lanka after the devastating Tsunami. He also participated in other clinics in India, Serbia, Armenia, and Albania.

Recognizing the need for medical care in his hometown of Stockton, in 1991, Dr. Demshar volunteered to perform clinics for the St. Mary's Dining Hall and Homeless Shelter, the Gospel Center Rescue Mission, and the Stockton Children's Home. He initially worked in the hallway of the medical clinic at St. Mary’s and the prayer room at the Gospel Center, where he hauled all of his equipment and glasses to each location and would set-up and tear down after each clinic. In 1999, St. Mary’s built a freestanding Medical Clinic where he was able to carve out two rooms, one for examinations and one for dispensing eyewear.

In 2013, Dr. Demshar and his wife Debbie established and held in their backyard an annual Summerfest fundraiser which ran from 2013-2021 and raised significant funds for the charities he supported. It was at the annual Summerfest that Dr. Demshar showcased and served his home-crafted and barrel-aged tequila, a hobby he began in 2012 after receiving a thrift store book his wife found for $1.

Dr. Demshar's ongoing generosity did not go unnoticed – he received the following recognition and awards:

  • Awarded with a 'Paul Harris Fellow' by the North Stockton Rotary Club for his humanitarian efforts both locally and abroad (2005)
  • Recognized by Lions in Sight for his 100th clinical mission to Zihuatanejo, Mexico (2015)
  • Recognized by the Mayor and Stockton City Council with "John Demshar Appreciation Day” for providing eyecare to the needy of the world and Stockton’s less fortunate population (2015)
  • Recognized by the California State Senate for 26 years of dedicated service to the San Joaquin Valley and Humanitarian Vision Clinics around the World (2015)
  • Recognized by the Humanitarian Vision Clinics Around the World (2015)
  • Lions in Sight Wayne Cannon Fellowship Award (2019)
  • San Joaquin Optometric Society Distinguished Service Award (2022)

Dr. Demshar was once asked, “Why do you do this?” His answer was simple: "Because I am able to bring the gift of sight to so many people." He was truly a "giant among giants" who will never be forgotten and will always be missed by those who knew him.

When Dr. Demshar was not working and donating his time to others, he spent his time with his beloved wife, children, and grandchildren. He had a passion for traveling the world and shared that passion with his family. In 2019, he self-published his book, Pareidolia – Seeing Faces in Unusual Places. He enjoyed bowling, dancing to the Gypsy Kings, collecting coins and artifacts from around the world, cruising the Delta on his family boat, reading, cross-fit, gardening, tending to his Agave plants, and sharing his homemade tequila with family and friends.

A Celebration of Life to honor Dr. Demshar is being planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donations be made to Flying Samaritans of Modesto, Lions in Sight, and St. Mary’s Medical Clinic, organizations Dr. Demshar felt strongly about. They further request that you then have a shot of your favorite tequila in his honor. Dr. Demshar will be greatly missed by the many lives he touched across the globe.


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