Professor Emerita Kristyna Demaree, who taught Spanish and Latin American studies for 36 years, passed away September 25. She was 76.
Born January 25, 1943, in Zambia, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s from Indiana University and PhD from the University of Colorado. She became a member of Chico State’s Department of International Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in 1972. Through the years, she was a fixture in the department, mentoring incoming faculty, forging connections with students outside the classroom, and sharing her deep passion for Spanish and Latin American studies.
“Kristyna was very sweet and soft-spoken but she was tough,” said Professor Emerita Pilar Alvarez-Rubio said. “She had a strong personality but at the same time was very kind and compassionate. She was always generous, open, and helpful.”
Demaree’s interest in her field of study was as personal as it was academic, and she traveled all over Central and South America to experience and study its languages, cultures, and communities. She was also a member of the Pacific Coast Latin American Studies Association.
Alvarez-Rubio said Demaree was instrumental in growing interest in studying abroad by taking her students on immersive trips to Costa Rica and Mexico, and several times leading the program in Mérida, a special immersive learning opportunity with 10 weeks on campus and six weeks in Mexico. She also supported student groups including MEChA and cultural celebrations on campus such as Dia de los Muertos.
Professor Sarah Anderson took several Spanish classes from Demaree during her years as a student and credits her for inspiring her own continuation of studies in Spanish and pursuit of graduate school.
“I loved her as a professor and one class I took with her was a favorite. It was a children’s theater class where we learned plays in Spanish and then performed them for the local elementary schools. It was so much fun,” Anderson said. “Kristyna was so full of life and passionate about Spanish and Latin America. … I remember seeing her after I got hired to teach Spanish at Chico State. She gave me a big hug and told me how proud she was of me. She was really a wonderful human being and I feel so lucky that I got to have her as a professor.”
After retiring in 2008, she continued a longtime interest in spiritual development, yoga, and meditation. She also enjoyed live music and dancing.
She is survived by her son Daniel Worth, daughter-in-law Camila, granddaughters Sigrid and Luciana, sister-in-law Denise Worth, brother-in-law Chuck Worth, niece Katie Worth, and partner Richard Braley, as well as many other extended family members.
A celebration of life will be held on January 25 at the Chico Women’s Club. We will share more details when we know them. The University flag will be lowered Wednesday, October 30 in her memory.