Born: 1867

Died: February 13, 1935



William M. Demerse superintendent of the Saranac Lake waterworks. Will Demerse was pictured as a member of the 1913 Saranac Lake Fire Department.

Ticonderoga Sentinel, February 14, 1935

Saranac Lake Official Fatally injured in Accidental Fall

SARANAC LAKE. N. Y., Feb. 12— Completing their investigation of the death of William Demerse, 68, waterworks superintendent, whose body was found in a flume early yesterday, officials today were convinced he died as the result of a fall. A murder theory was investigated.

Demerse's body, with two fractures of the skull, was discovered in the water-filled flume by Frank Buck, a son-in-law of the dead man. There were no tracks on the snow-covered ground and authorities said Demerse apparently stumbled and fell in the water after striking his head on a stone abutment.

"His lungs were congested and the inquest showed he had pneumonia, meningitis and a bad heart," Chief of Police John Tierney said. "He must have been delirious and stumbled."

Lake Placid News, February 15, 1935


Death of William Demerse at Saranac Lake First Believed Caused by Foul Play

William M. Demerse's loyalty to his job of 36 years and his eccentricity in refusing aid under any condition, caused his death at Saranac Lake early Monday morning.

The body of the 67-year-old superintendent of water works of Saranac Lake was found shortly after 7 o'clock partially submerged in water in the tailrace of the pumping system underneath the municipal building.

An autopsy revealed the man had suffered two fractures of the skull, one over the left eye and the other back of the left ear. Dr. William Gardner, Franklin county coroner, said either was sufficient to cause death.

The body was found by his son, Russell Demerse, an employee of the water department. He summoned Frank Buck, son-in-law of the superintendent, and Trifley Duprey, both employees, who pulled the body from the water. Only a large pipe, part of the building's supports, kept the body from being swept into the Saranac river.

While Dr. Gardner refused to divulge the findings of the autopsy it is understood that the superintendent was suffering from lobar pneumonia and meningitis. It is thought that these ailments were the indirect cause of his sudden death.

It is believed he went through a passageway leading to the flume and tailrace in the sub-basement, where he fell down a narrow, steep steel stairway, his body rolling into the tailrace. It is probable in this fall that he suffered the skull fractures.

[missing words] are incomplete, it is said the service will be held Saturday morning in St. Bernard's church.