Memories of Deborah
Thank you for visiting this memorial to Deborah.

It was an honor to speak at Deborah's memorial service on Friday.  Most of us have never known someone who died suddenly, and we're all learning how to cope with such shock.  My way of coping is to savor the memories.  It seems that as long as I remember her, she lives in my heart.  I hope that sharing these memories brings everybody some sense of joy in having known Deborah.  And perhaps, we can piece together our collective impressions and get to know this mysterious and well-liked woman better.
Barbara Belmont
A good friend from LAGLS, - Saturday, May 08, 1999 at 10:45:03 (PDT)


Tears were rolling down my face as I examined the photo essay. There was Deborah with her arms over my shoulders at Descanso Gardens. There I was as Santa giving her a present. I always looked forward to seeing her at the LAGLS meetings, steering committee meetings and trips. She was so much fun and witty. I will always remember the time I picked her up on a street a few blocks from Barbara and Shelly's. Her car had broken down and she was walking to the meeting. When we came into the house together, the group ribbed us that we were straight , or that I was picking up a street walker. We all roared with laughter. I will miss her dearly and her death has been a struggle for me. It is important that we spend our precious moments on Earth engaged in activities that are meaninful and important for us and to cherish our friends.
Chuck Stewart
LAGLS, - Sunday, May 09, 1999 at 19:55:51 (PDT) 
I was unfortunately the first person in LAGLS to be told about her death. I cried alot because Deborah and I were very close. We met about 6 years ago at a LAGLS function and became friends. She was also very protective of me especially when it came to relationships. We had the best time when we went to Disneyland and stayed in the Disneyland hotel for her 40th birthday. I last saw Deborah when we went to the Living Desert. She, myself and my friend Sherri all had the best time. I always remember how the two of them insisted that I buy a cow clock we saw at the diner we stoped at and had dinner. I will miss her alot and will always love her.
Candy Cassato
LAGLS, - Wednesday, May 19, 1999 at 15:30:58 (PDT)
I was deeply shocked to hear of Deborah's passing, so soon after seeing her at my home and at the Living Desert. She made the long drive to the Living Desert outing every year, and could always be relied upon for a nice potluck dish and for informative and witty comments during the excursion. She loved the place, and it is on account of her that the name of LAGLS appears on the list of animal "adopters" posted in the park. She will be greatly missed.
Dwight Fine
LAGLS, - Thursday, June 03, 1999 at 20:09:24 (PDT)
Lu was my big sister. Not like some who just happen to be born ahead of you. She was truly my big sister, who guided me and taught me and cared for me my entire life. I could always call her on the phone with any question or when I was feeling low or just to chat about anything or nothing at all. Often my question was whether I could get away with planting a certain plant in my horribly zoned backyard. She was always saying "Lu, read that Western Garden book I gave you" or she'd come over and say "you can't plant that here!" I was always tempting nature, she was always understanding it. Thru my early childhood I wouldnt do anything without my big sister. I Wouldnt get on the rocking horse without her riding along with me or read books without her by my side. Lu was always trustworthy and reliable. She would take me and my little sister Cynthia and a small group of neighborhood kids to the library (which was quite a hike for small children) every saturday morning for story hour. Afterwards, we would stop by a little market for candy and then off to the park with our newly checked out books to spend the afternoon. Lu made sure every child had a library card and knew how to select books. Always the teacher, always the guardian. The parents in the neighborhood never had to worry about their kids. They knew they would be safe with Deborah. Lu and I shared many interests such as hiking, gardening, birding and visiting antique shops and junk stores. It was always a special day when we could meet early in the morning and spend the day visiting known birding spots around the southland, checking off birds we'ed identified, Lu always with notebook in hand making sure every one was written down including the location found and the daily weather. I remember one year she compiled all the lists she had saved into one nicely typewritten diary and presented it to me as a Christmas gift. Whenever I spent a day with her, whether it was working in the yard, or helping out at at moms house or pursuing our interests, I always returned home happy. She undoubtedly had fun stories to tell and knowledge to share and was always interesting to spend time with. Deborah had an adventurous spirit and had a way of sparking interest in the people she knew. She always had some new activity to try, someplace to go, some new food to sample. My first Thai food experience was shared with her. She said, "have you ever had Thai? It's great, you'll love it. I know this little place..." and off we went. She took me to asian food markets and we always marveled at the strange and exotic items that one could purchase. Because of those experiences, I now seek out these markets when experimenting with new dishes. Gifts from Lu were always special and unique. Putting herself thru school, she often did not have much money to spend, but that never mattered. She always put alot of thought and time into her gifts making sure that each exactly fit the person she gave it to. She always came up with something wonderful, gifts to treasure for a lifetime. I have various hand-made christmas tree ornaments made of pretzels and paper cutouts, elephants carved out of soap and sponge, special books on birds and plants and art, antique vases and candle holders. Every one perfect just for me. Although Lu is no longer available to take my phone calls or share a big Chinese dinner with (because she is busy in her special garden filled with exotic (and as Lu would say "your everyday garden variety" plants and birds), she will live on in my heart and soul and mind. Everytime I get ready to pop a new plant in the ground, I will hear her softly correcting my choice or giving me advice for the perfect placement and everytime I see a new bird, I will consider it a gift from my big sister Lu. I want to thank the people that I have met from the LAGLS for their warmth, friendliness and genuine concern. Its so nice to know that Deborah had such caring friends. Sharing your stories and photos of Deborah has meant so much to me. Your caring has helped to ease the pain and let me know that Deborah had some wonderful times during her life with us.
Patti Dorsett
sister/best friend, - Sunday, June 13, 1999 at 11:37:34 (PDT)
Deborah was a wonderful person (full of wonder). She marveled at nature, all of nature, from the tiniest microbes to the largest and most distant galaxies. She saw beauty in nature sooner and more clearly than most of us. She took joy in the simplest of activities. Blowing bubbles, playing with magnets and feeding the birds in the backyard, to name just a few. Deborah loved cats. Her last cat, Mr T., was the saddest, mangiest animal you ever saw when she rescued him from the street. But she nursed him back to health and loved him and prized him, as if he were the finest pedigreed show cat. She loved and accepted animals and people for who they were. Deborah cared deeply and tried to make the world a better place. She was stubborn when she believed she was right. She didn't compromise her principles. It is said, courage is when you are afraid to do something but do it anyway. When the roof of our home needed repair before the rainy season, she came up and helped. Only later did I learn that she was afraid of heights. We spoke once about whether we would go to Mars if the opportunity were to arise. I said I might be somewhat reluctant, but she said she would be the first one on the ship! Deborah was always open to new experiences and new opportunities. Left to myself, I might be content to eat the same foods at the same time every day. She introduced me to new pleasures and enjoyments. She lived life to the best of her ability and made my life fuller and richer. She made me a better person. She was my cherised friend and I will miss her.
Ron Hoekwater
Friend and roommate of 13yrs, - Sunday, June 13, 1999 at 11:41:08 (PDT)
It is really funny how we all go through life and we take things for granted and we never really know what's down the road. Deborah and I rode the bus together for about 18 months until I got my car. There were about 8 of us that use to ride the bus together and when one was absent, we would ask the others if they knew what had happened to the one that was absent. Deborah and I were always the last ones that got off the bus because CSUF was the last stop for our bus. All eight of us got to know each other and talk about what we were doing and how we hated the bus system because they were never on time and many times you would be stuck where you were until maybe 45 min to an hour later when the next bus came depending on the bus. Each of the eight of us started to get cars one by one and finally when I got my car, I would only see Deborah on campus. I remember seeing her in the Compendium and when I saw her and told her, she didn't even know that she had been in it. It was about a project that she had been working on in the Biology dept.
Sandee Clay
Deborah and I rode the same buses together to go to CSUF before I got a car., - Thursday, August 12, 1999 at 14:46:35 (PDT)
I met Deborah at an SCWU New Year's Eve dance on the evening of December 31, 1990. We were both seated at the "singles" table and promptly struck up a lively conversation. We laughed and shared so many similar experiences (we were both the same age), I forgot to 'cruise the scene' and ended up having the BEST time. And why not?! Deborah is one of the wittiest and smartest people I've ever met. We ended up spending most of 1991 visiting places all over LA doing the mini-field trip thing. She directed my Suzuki Samuri all over hell-and-gone peppering my brain with her vast array of dizzying facts. How could anyone know so much!! I've lived in LA all my life and here she was educating me about surroundings I never paid attention to or gave a second thought. The world came alive under Deborah's tutelage. We also shared a love of hard rock music, exotic foods, tennis and dancing at the clubs. Deborah always rode the bus(es) from Ontario to Glendale and then I would drive us to a place of her choosing for a full day of guarenteed laughs, education (mostly mine), good food, adventure and interesting thought sharing. In 1992, I entered a new relationship and let my friendship with Deborah slip away. I deeply regret my foolish and ignorant choice. Deborah was truly a "diamond" that always shone clearly, honestly and brightly. I would like to thank her for her friendship and selflessnes, and for taking the time to open my eyes to the amazing world around me.
Khris Tovar
- Monday, July 10, 2000 at 8:53:37 (PDT)
A Tree Returns to Life...

In the backyard, Deborah left, next to one of her salvaged plant tables and some cinder blocks, a tree in a 5-gallon plastic container. Since her death I have continued to water it. I know not what future she had planned for it, nor even what kind of tree it is. I do not remember how long she had tended it when she died. (Perhaps it was a couple years, perhaps longer.) So for more than three years it sat between the table and the big yucca out back and silently rose skyward eventually attaining a height of more than ten feet.

A few months back the mobile home park management was insisting that many changes be made to the exterior of the home and to the yard. I reluctantly removed to the Dumpster the table that Deborah had once rescued from oblivion and returned to proud and useful service but which, lacking her diligent attention was now sadly deteriorating. I moved and replanted the tree into the vacated site.

As the tree may have stood there for five years or longer, when the first effort was made at relocation it was discovered to have parted its plastic prison and put firmly in place an elaborate and extensive root system. (While stretching forth to Father Sky, the anonymous tree had also probed deeply into Mother Earth.) To move the tree without severing it from its underground source of strength and vitality would prove impossible.

Both my spouse (Claudia) and my father told me to just cut through the root at the point where it emerged from the plastic pot. They said the tree would quite possibly die anyway. But this was Deborah's tree that she had watched over and cared for. I wished to do everything possible and practical to insure the best hope for its survival. I cut away, piece by piece, the black plastic container which had (less than perfectly) confined it. The main root (it might be called the taproot, or at least I've heard that term) was actually larger in diameter than was the base of the trunk. It was probably more than six inches from one side to the other.

I dug down into ground a couple of feet and tried to coax the Earth into relinquishing (only briefly) her child. She was persistent, but so was I. When gentle persuasion seemed not to be working, in a temporary fit of frustration I decided that (perhaps) stubborn male brute force was what was required to effect a release. I pushed the trunk back and forth (nearly parallel to the ground) along different axes of travel, in an effort to dislodge or at least loosen its determined grip. But the bond of a mother and child is strong and I was ultimately unsuccessful. Regaining my composure, I returned to patiently but persistently digging. Eventually it was necessary to use a saw to free the tree, but I managed to preserve an extra eighteen inches and maybe more of the main root.

For several days, I kept a water hose running constantly at a trickle under the tree. After that I continued to deep water the shocked tree often. For the first three days after the its traumatic removal and return home it seemed miraculously to have suffered no adverse effects. But I knew that this was too good to be true. On the fourth day its leaves started to droop and then to wilt. Over the next several days they turned from a healthy green to a depressing brown. Claudia cut away the dead leaves. She hoped that this would allow the tree to focus all of its remaining resources on healing the gravely injured root system rather than a valiant but vain attempt to preserve the foliage above.

For two months the outcome was in doubt. Would another of the living things to which Deborah showed deep devotion and on which she showered constant care perish with her? I hoped not. Then, yesterday while watering the backyard, I was moving a sprinkler when I thought I saw tinges of green on the long bare branches. On closer examination many new buds and barely opening leaves were visible. The apparently dead tree had returned to life and was becoming a vibrant and verdant tenant of our backyard once again. An oft-heard phrase from Deborah leapt into my mind, "Isn't it grand! " Life goes on. And Deborah would be so pleased.
In Her Memory, Ron Hoekwater
- Sunday, September 1, 2002 at 11:38 (PDT)


[return to main page]