He was a superpatriot, if a little eccentric about it. He owned the world's largest flag, an American flag weighing 3,000 pounds that will be displayed next at the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 3.
Demski had tattoos all over his body, including American flags on his chest and back.
He had a 132-foot flag pole, known as "The Pole," installed in front of his house at 4th Street and Lime Avenue near downtown. Demski, a Pole himself, looked like Santa Claus and had the same happy disposition and helped various charities in town.
When asked why he loved flags so much, Demski would reply: "Because it represents our country and what it stands for. It means freedom to me and there's no sweeter word."
He also ran for mayor and City Council but never won.
When Demski died in 2002, he was placed in a glass coffin (at his request) for a wake in his garage. Afterward, he was cremated, and his remains were placed inside The Pole in the front of his house.
Another of Demski's hobbies was collecting birds, all kinds of birds, large and small. At one time, he had 22 of them.
Demski got around the city driving his motor scooter with Peppy, a beautiful blue macaw, riding on the vehicle's handlebars, feathers blowing in the wind.
Peppy was Demski's favorite bird. In fact, there is a statue of Demski next to "The Pole" with a carved Peppy on his shoulder.
Peppy and Demski were inseparable. Problem: What to do with Peppy after Demski died?
To the rescue came Dianna Anderson, who first saw Peppy riding with Demski in 1982 when she was a Long Beach police officer. Anderson also loves birds. She used to have a part-time job working at Omar's Exotic Birds in Cypress (now called Fran's Exotic Birds).
When Demski died, Anderson wondered what would become of Peppy and the other birds. She was told by Jim Alexander, a longtime Demski friend and trustee of his estate, that the birds were being taken care of.
But apparently that did not work out so well, and Alexander called Anderson in 2005 to see if she could find a good home for Peppy.
"We met at Ski's house," Anderson remembered. "When we opened Peppy's cage, she came out and my husband Mark offered his hand to her. She immediately bit him. But she soon realized we were not going to harm her and she warmed up to us."
She and her husband adopted Peppy and, a month later, Anderson retired from the Long Beach Police Department after 24 years and moved to her husband's hometown of Fairmont, Minn.
The next few years were idyllic.
"Peppy and I became best friends," Anderson said from her home in Fairmont. "We slept on the sofa. We became very, very attached."
She likes to call Peppy the "Big Blue Parrot." And big she is, about 3 feet long from her intimidating beak to the tip of her tail and weighing three pounds.
Anderson took Peppy to schools and nursing homes where kids and seniors alike asked the most frequently asked question: Does she bite? Answer: Yes.
Peppy also appeared in one episode of a cable TV show, "As the Corn Grows," a spoof of life in the Midwest. The Andersons also appear on the show.
Could Peppy speak?
"She mostly mumbled, but she could say `mother' and `Mark.' Her favorite word was "Hello," Anderson said.
No one knew Peppy's exact age. For a hyacinth macaw in captivity, any age over 40 is considered elderly. Peppy was estimated to be at least 40 or 50 years old.
Old age apparently finally caught up with Peppy when she started to lose her balance. She died fairly suddenly last month.
"Peppy was the light of our lives the seven years we had her, and we miss her so very much," Anderson told me.
A special tombstone awaits Peppy when the Andersons depart this life.
"We have had our grave marker made and wanted to personalize it," Dianna said. "On the front, above my name, is a laser reproduction of my police badge. Above Mark's name is a golf green and flag. On the reverse of the marker is a laser photo of Peppy, and the words, `Love is a Many-Feathered Thing."'
Dianna talked about meeting Peppy again on the Rainbow Bridge, a place "just this side of Heaven" where animals and birds go when they die, according to a poem.
"When you and your bird finally meet, you cling to each other in joyous reunion, knowing you will never be parted again," the poem says.
Peppy will be especially joyful being reunited with two of her beloved owners, the Andersons from Fairmont, Minn., and Ski Demski from Long Beach.
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