Remembering first Zippy

Perry “Pete” Thomas Demming passes away at age 81

Photo courtesy of UA Digest

Photo courtesy of UA Digest

By Zaina Salem, Editor-in-Chief

UA alumnus Perry “Pete” Thomas Demming died on Wednesday, Oct. 7, after an illness at the age of 81.

Sporting a paper-mache head and a brown furry uniform, Demming became UA’s first Zippy at the inaugural Acme-Zip game in 1955. The kangaroo was officially declared the mascot a year before on May 1 when it was approved by the student council.

Demming recalled in a 1987 Tel-Buch, UA’s yearbook, that only a small group of people knew his role as Zippy—or at that time, “Mr. Zip.”

The first reference to “Zippy” was made in a 1965 Zip football press brochure. The Buchtelite first used the name on Sept. 24, 1965, in an identification of a photo.

“Perry ‘Pete’ Demming was a pillar of this University of Akron family – the keystone of our strongest tradition whom we all know as the exuberant, lovable and spirited Zippy,” said President Scott Scarborough in a statement. “He was UA’s first to wear the Zippy uniform and I am told it was Pete’s own sense of humor and zeal for life that gave Zippy her unique and entertaining personality. Pete’s dedication to UA as a loyal alumnus, his support of his beloved fraternity and the men of Phi Delta Theta speak to the loss we feel as a community.”

Demming, an Akron native, graduated from The University of Akron in 1956 with a B.S. in business administration. During his undergraduate years, he was involved in Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, Pershing Rifles, Air Force ROTC, Arnold Air Society, Sabre Squadron, student government and Omicron Delta Kappa honorary.

After graduation, he served in the U.S. Air Force where he earned the rank of captain. Being one of the founders of the Garland Company in Cleveland, Ohio, he spent most of his professional life as an industrial salesman and consultant.

Throughout his life, he remained involved with his alma mater as a member of the Hilltoppers/Buchtelles alumni group. He also established the Perry T. Demming Scholarship for Ohio Epsilon Chapter of Phi Delta Theta.

Demming is survived by his wife, Betty Lee Clemens Demming, a sister, five children and 12 grandchildren.

A funeral service for Demming will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.