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Stretch of US 41 renamed to honor slain prison guard

MARQUETTE – The stretch of highway that runs in front of the Marquette Branch Prison is now a testament to the sacrifice of a prison guard who was murdered at the prison more than 40 years ago.

Gov. Rick Snyder, state Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, and state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, joined DeMarse family members at the prison Thursday for the official renaming of the section of U.S. 41 in front of the prison as the Officer Earl DeMarse Memorial Highway.

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

Kivela sponsored the highway renaming bill, House Bill 5447, last session. The bill was signed into law in January.

“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,” Kivela said. “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.”

Snyder said DeMarse served Michigan for more than two decades ensuring the protection of its residents.

“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.”

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