"Ski" Demski Ailing, But Hopeful After Beverly Hills Cardiologist Offers Help Following LA Times Article
by Bill Pearl
(January 5, 2002. updated Jan. 7) -- As I drove up to "The Pole" at 4th and Lime today, LB icon, flag waver and occasional City Hall antagonist Thomas "Ski" Demski was outside, preparing an Olympic Flag (made for LA's 1984 games) for possible use at Salt Lake City's '02 games in the coming weeks.
I took a picture but Demski wasn't satisfied. He wanted both corners hoisted to better photograph the banner. "Hey, come over here," he said to a stranger walking down 4th St. The man smiled, came over and gladly helped Demski lift the banner.
Ski was pleased, thanked the helpful stranger, folded the Olympic banner skillfully and we went inside to talk.
Mr. Demski, 72, freely admits his condition today is better than it was a few days ago when he felt near rock bottom. He'd been told seven of nine heart arteries, already once bypassed, were blocked again and it appeared little more could be done.
Then LA Times writer Bill Plaschke wrote an eloquent piece (published Jan. 1, 2002, Times Sports section) describing Demski's patriotic and civic deeds as well as his current plight. It was a catalytic action.
"A woman up in LA saw the article, " Demski told me, "and she linked me up with an outstanding Beverly Hills cardiologist. The doctor graciously spoke to me and I now have hope," he said, adding he planned to see the heart expert in a week or so.
Seated at his computer (with his permission, we'll give you his email address below), surrounded by news clippings, ringing phones, cable television, a pill box and squawking pet birds, Demski seemed overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern for his health.
"CBS showed up and taped me for their national early morning show," he said, adding it could run this coming Thursday with Bryant Gumbel. The Beachbomber also carried a somber piece by Steve Propes following the Times article. Demski said PT columnist Tom Hennessy also planned a forthcoming piece. [Subsequent note: It was published in the Jan 6 PT].
"I was feeling lousy a few days ago, but now I have hope," Demski said while reflecting on two decades of his fiercely individualistic activism.
A clipping file traces some of his encounters with LB City Hall: