‘He loved his community and wanted to do his part to help’

Family of former Cullman-based antiques dealer urge vaccinations

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(Photo courtesy of Raven DeMonia) 

CULLMAN, Ala. – When Ray DeMonia suffered a cardiac event on August 23, 2021, he was in desperate need of a cardiac ICU bed. Due to the influx of COVID-19 cases at Cullman Regional Medical Center and hospitals throughout the country, no bed was available. After calling over 40 other hospitals, a bed was finally found over three hours away in Mississippi. Now, his family is sharing Ray’s story in hopes that others will get the vaccine to protect themselves, others and ease the strain on our medical system.  

DeMonia was a well-loved and respected member of the Cullman community. He was an expert antiques dealer and a talented auctioneer. His daughter, Raven DeMonia, said of her father, “He had a talent. Dad was a team player, always. He was vaccinated for his own health and everyone else’s health.”  

When the pandemic first started, Ray knew he was at high risk and took the recommended precautions. Early on in the pandemic, he suffered a stroke, but beds were immediately available. Raven recalled that at the time, people were on a lockdown and taking precautions, resulting in COVID-free hospitals. He recovered quickly. He was eager to get the vaccine when they became available and wore his mask when going out in public. She said, “He did everything he was supposed to do.”  

A year later, when her father suffered a cardiac event and was in need of a heart catheter, the cardiac beds at CRMC had all been converted to beds for COVID patients. She explained, “There was no cardiac facility. His cardiologist is at St. Vincent’s. They couldn’t take him. UAB couldn’t take him. Brookwood couldn’t take him. Grandview, Emory, Vanderbilt–they couldn’t take him.” CRMC contacted 43 hospitals before finding a bed available in Meridian, Mississippi.  

DeMonia was then airlifted to Meridian where he stayed for eight days. He passed away on September 1, over three hours from home and just three days before his 74th birthday. He and his wife Patricia would have celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary in October. “He got great care and the Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian had the best doctors and nurses. They were very understanding and accommodating. Even then, their beds were mostly taken up with COVID patients,” Raven said.  

The Demonia family is urging people to get vaccinated to help others avoid the same situation they faced. Raven stressed, “Anything can happen. A stroke, heart attack, hunting accident or any type of trauma like a car accident–you are going to have to wait. It’s scary and it is like this everywhere.”  

“My dad was absolutely like no other person I had ever known or met; born in Cullman in 1947 and graduated from Cullman High School in 1966. He loved his family and would do anything for just about anybody. He loved antiques and auctioneering,” Raven said. “He learned to refinish furniture from his dad and then he taught me.” Ray DeMonia also taught antiques classes at his store.  

“He just knew so much about antiques, and he loved auctioneering for the Cullman Rotary Club auctions,” Raven added. “He also loved his community and wanted to do his part. He was looking forward to his third booster. You have to do your part. It’s not just going to go away. You have to say at some point that it’s not just about taking care of yourself and your family, but it’s about taking care of your community too.”  

Obituary 

Ray Martin Demonia of Cullman, Alabama passed on Wednesday September 1, 2021 at Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi after suffering a cardiac event.  

Ray DeMonia was like no other. Ray, a native of Cullman, Alabama was well known for DeMonia’s Antiques and Auctions where he spent 40 years in the antique business and traveled the country gathering antiques and sharing his wealth of knowledge. He served as auctioneer for the Cullman Rotary Club fundraiser auction as well as the Annual Draw Down Auction for the Hospice of Cullman County Inc. for over 20 years.  

Ray was preceded in death by his parents: LaBelle and Clifford DeMonia and brothers-in-law: Roger Meyers, Jim Young and Jim Osborne.  

He is survived by his wife: Patricia O. DeMonia; daughter: Raven Marie DeMonia; grandson: Liam; brother: David DeMonia; sister: Denise DeMonia; brothers-in-law: Jack (Carolyn) Osborne, Freddy (Delores) Osborne and Charles (Janice) Osborne; sisters-in-law: Jane Young, Marie (Jim) Martin, Helen Meyers and Jan Osborne and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.  

A celebration of life for Ray will be announced at a later day.  

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Cullman Rotary Club or Hospice of Cullman County.  

In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non-COVID related emergencies. Due to COVID-19, CRMC emergency staff contacted 43 hospitals in three states in search of a Cardiac ICU bed and finally located one in Meridian, Mississippi. He would not want any other family to go through what his did.  

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com