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May 31, 2020

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15 minutes with Ryan DeMarco

From National Guard to financial advisor

Interviewed by Liz Gordon-Hancock
Ryan DeMarco was born in upstate New York, but grew up in Champaign County, Ohio. He's now settled in Bluffton, is married to Alicia (Evilsizor) and they have three children, Micah (age 8), Noah (age 6), and Hannah (age 4).

Where did you go to school and what have you been up to?
I graduated from St. Paris Graham High School in 2000, and enlisted in the Ohio Army National Guard shortly before graduation. I was Honorably Discharged in 2010.

In between my deployments I completed an Associate’s Degree from Ohio State University and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. I am currently one semester away from completing a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and Organizational Finance from Bluffton University.

What's next for you?
In March of this year I left a nearly 14-year career with JPMorgan to open a second Edward Jones office here in town. My location will be the former home of the Gillett Bakery / Sports Warehouse at 111 N. Main St.  I anticipate renovations starting soon and being completed by December.  My previous work called me away from town on a daily basis, so I am incredibly excited to serve existing and future Edward Jones clients and this community. (Watch the Bluffton Icon for additional details.)

What brought you to Bluffton?
In the summer of 2001, I met my amazing wife Alicia (Evilsizor).  She grew up on the outskirts of Bluffton and her family did all of their business in town. When it came time to figure out where to send our three children to school, Bluffton was an easy decision. We re-acquainted ourselves with the community and rediscovered our love for this amazing town. We built a home southeast of town in 2015, and are very pleased with our decision to call Bluffton home.

How did you and Alicia meet?
Alicia and I met in the summer of 2001, and I proposed the following fall. I’m not sure I believe in love at first sight, but I’ll never forget the first time I met Alicia.  We were in a very crowded room and I noticed her immediately. When she walked through the crowd, it felt like there was a spotlight following her, and I lost my breath. It took me several weeks to work up the nerve to ask her on a date, but I’m so thankful she said yes.

Little known fact: I proposed to Alicia after a date that concluded with a movie at the Shannon Theatre.

Your name sounds Italian - what's the history and background of your family name?
My surname is Italian. Five generations ago, my ancestors immigrated through Ellis Island from Marco, Italy. When they got here, they were given the surname DeMarco (from Marco). They lived in New York City until my father was a teenager and then moved upstate. My mom is Polish/German, but her ancestors settled in Dayton, Ohio. My mom and dad met in the Navy, and settled in upstate New York before ultimately settling northeast of Dayton (Champaign County).

What three things are you most passionate about?
My family, helping myself and others know Christ at a deeper level, and helping people with their finances.

Tell me about your national guard service. Did you serve overseas? How do you go from military service to financial advisor?
I spent 10 years in the Ohio Army National Guard as a Howitzer Section Chief.  I served three different tours, and loved every minute of helping others. War and military service can be a very ugly thing, but there are also amazing moments where you get to show others the goodness of Christ. I originally went to school to be an accountant, but could not fathom sitting behind a desk and not having client communication.  Being a financial Advisor allows me to blend my love for Finance with my love for people. 

On the surface, my military service doesn’t blend well with my civilian work, but I am incredibly passionate in both areas.  While I was in the Field artillery, I often helped soldiers set up budgets and understand how they were able to put their money to work for them. 

You seem to be the type of guy who can talk to anyone, anywhere, about almost anything. Is this a natural gift or has this been a craft that you've honed to enable you to better do your job?
A little bit of both.  My parents would tell you that I’ve always had the “gift of gab.”  As an adult, I found myself naturally withdrawing and being very uncomfortable with meeting strangers.  I believe in constantly learning and growing, and have forced myself to hone my craft of conversation.  I try to remind myself that if I don’t know someone, they also don’t know me. 

I am infatuated with learning how people live their lives and understanding what’s important to them. I don’t believe anyone is wholly right or wrong; we each have a lot that we bring to the table.  By understanding people and their situations, my worldview is broadened and I become a more rounded and knowledgeable person. 

This knowledge and natural curiosity translate well into my passion for helping people with their finances.  I also try to always keep an open mind and respect others, and their opinions.

So you built your own house, which is a rising trend around here. Any advice for others who are considering building their own house?
Take your time and enjoy the process. Kyle Gratz helped us design our home over the course of 18 months. We walked through a lot of houses and took tips from others. Over the course of 18 months, we revised the plans multiple times with Kyle and he was awesome and patient with us. Once the construction started, a healthy dose of patience is needed.  It is important to remember to have patience during the process because it can be very trying at times.

You shocked me the other day by mentioning you often have coyotes in your backyard. Are there really coyotes in the Bluffton area?
Riley Creek runs through our woods and backyard.  There are a lot of coyotes that travel the creek in search of their next meal.  It is my understanding that one of my neighbors trapped approximately 15 last year.  To my knowledge we don’t have a coyote problem in Bluffton, but thankfully, there are many in the community that trap them. 

This is incredibly important because it helps keep their population in check.  Earlier this year we found a carcass of an 8-point buck in our woods that had been ravaged by coyotes.  It’s unclear if they were the cause of its death, but it was obvious that they had eaten it afterwards.

When I type your name in Google, "Ryan DeMarco, the mystery novelist" pops up on screen.  I know this is not you, but this leads me to ask: if you ever wrote a book, what would it be about? 
I find this very interesting; I had no idea! I don’t feel that I am very creative, so I suppose it would need to be nonfiction. I often wish that I kept a journal of times where I’ve seen moments with God. Defining moments where God clearly showed up in mine and my family’s life.  I may eventually write these down in my lifetime, but not something that could/would be published.

What's the most famous person you've ever met?
I’ll let others decide who is the most “famous,” but there are three that stand out:  1 - As a child, I met Jack Hanna in an airport.  I worked up the nerve to introduce myself and get a signature. 

2 - I grew up around the corner from Jim Jordan and his brother was my wrestling coach.  Since I knew him prior to his rise in politics. 

3 - I met the cast of “The Unit” during one of my deployments.  While the entire cast was there, I would say that Dennis Haysbert was likely the most famous (the man you see on the All State commercials).

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy archery/hunting, gardening, and constantly improving our homestead as a family. I also enjoy hanging out with my kids and teaching them. I love showing them how hard work can result in great triumph. 

I also enjoy running and cycling. I’ve always said that I’m a good Ohio boy because I like each season for what it offers.