MARQUETTE – State Representative John Kivela (D-Marquette) joined Gov. Rick Snyder and DeMarse family members at the Marquette Branch Prison on Thursday, Aug. 13, for the official renaming of the section of U.S. 41 in front of the prison as the Earl DeMarse Memorial Highway. Kivela sponsored the highway renaming bill, House Bill 5447, last session. The bill was signed into law in January. Officer DeMarse was the first Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) guard to be murdered in a state facility.

“I was honored to sponsor the bill renaming this highway and honored to stand with DeMarse family members and Gov. Snyder to recognize the service and courage of Officer DeMarse as we officially renamed this highway,” said Kivela. “Officer DeMarse was the first guard to lose his life in the line of duty. Renaming this highway for him will help us remember that Michigan prison guards and MDOC workers put their lives on the line every day to protect us and our family members.” 

“Earl faithfully served the state for more than two decades ensuring the protection of Michiganders. Renaming the highway in his honor is a reminder of the risks associated with this important profession,” Snyder said while attending the ceremony as part of his annual Upper Peninsula trip. “It was an honor to join with Earl’s family and the U.P. community in recognition of his sacrifice for the safety of our state.”

Officer DeMarse died on Sept. 25, 1973, after he was stabbed by an inmate while working in the auditorium of the Marquette Branch Prison. He had been an MDOC employee for 26 years.