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Deborah ABONO

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Deborah (Debbie) Ann Downer Abono August 31, 1929 ~ May 16, 2010 Resident of Concord On Sunday, May 16, 2010 we lost one truly great Lady. Born in Oakland, CA to Gertrude and E.M. Downer Jr., one of Pinole, CA's most conservative and affluent families. Debbie refused to fit into anyone else's expectations of whom or what she should be. She loved life and all it had to offer. Debbie loved people of all ages, from all walks of life. Her door and her heart were always open to those in need. She was a cheerleader coach, babysitter, confidant and financial counselor all at the same time, and she loved every minute of it. Her biggest passions were her children, sports (49er faithful since the age of 12), music, travel, and Mechanics Bank - a business started by her grandfather where she served as a member of the Board of Directors. Debbie was in her mid-fifties when she plunged into the Bay Areas Heavy Metal/ Thrash Metal music scene. She quickly became a much loved and respected aspect of some of the Bay Area's strongest metal bands (Possessed, Forbidden, Vio-Lence, Exodus, Skinlab) as well as Chicago's Broken Hope, Florida's Obituary & Cynic, Ohio's Spudmonsters, and from Texas Skrew. Many of these members who have gone onto further success with their careers with Debbie's constant guidance. She is known around the world not only for the work she has done for countless musicians, band crew members and their families, but more so for her heart and generosity and her ability to uplift, motivate and empower all those around her to always be honest and to be their best. After recently learning that Debbie was gravely ill, James Hetfield of Metallica, another Bay Area legend, gave a verbal tribute before singing the hit song "Nothing Else Matters" at a performance in Belfast, Ireland. Alex Skolnick, guitarist for Testament posted the following statement: "In the mid-1980s when most folks over forty were afraid of metal, there was Debbie Abono, a kind, sophisticated women in her 50s. She saw right through the pentagrams, upside-down crosses, leather and spikes and recognized that some kind souls lay underneath the anger reflected much younger, often-misunderstood group of metalheads and became manager to some of the heaviest bands. By doing so, she helped us realize that older people weren't so bad either." Testament also dedicated the song "Alone in the Dark" during the bands May 16, 2010 performance in Enschede, Netherlands. Many more posts appear on the internet everyday paying tribute to a wonderful woman. Debbie will be greatly missed, but her legacy will live on. Although her adventures have taken her around the world, her favorite travel places were Kona Village Resort, Big Island Hawaii, and Disneyland with the kids. Regardless of if she was in the boardroom, walking down Main Street, Disney, laying on the beach at the village, or headbanging at one of her bands shows, she was the same person meeting people and taking charge just like a Mom would do. She leaves behind her brother and his wife Eddie and Yoshimi Downer of Martinez; daughter and her husband Nancy and Lewis Labowitz of Concord; son and his wife Eric and Marnie Nelson, of Fairfield; daughter and her husband Gina and Troy Jost of Clyde; daughter and her husband Julie and Cameron (Melly) Ebding of Pleasant Hill. Debbie now joins her son John Edward Nelson who preceded her in death. Debbie had 11 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren: John's daughter and her husband Lindy and Neil Smithers, their children Jack and Lucy Smithers of Shingle Springs; Nancy's daughter Michelle Cronin of San Diego; Rick and Marnie's daughter Erica Nelson of Fairfield; Gina's children Blake Curatolo-Padia, Kendall, Logan, Riley and Gage Padia and Cheyenne Jost of Clyde; Julie and Cameron's (Melly) children Gavin, Colin and Melia Ebding of Pleasant Hill; as well as longtime friends Angie Spirlock, "Canada" Dave Busch, Maria Ferrero and of course the thousands of others who thought of her and called her MOM! Or "Metal Mom" as she was known in the music scene. Debbie wishes were to not have a service but a "Celebration of Life" which will be announced by her family at a later date. Debbie's love for music from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin through Metallica and Machine Head inspired her to set up a Music Scholarship through Mechanics Bank. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to a fund established by Mechanics Bank at the East Bay Community Foundation in Debbie's memory which will support music education and performance. Donations can be made through their website: www.edcf.kintera.org. Donations can also be made via check payable to: East Bay Community Foundation and should be accompanied by a note designating that the gift is for the Debbie Abono Memorial Fund for Music. Contributions should be mailed to The East Bay Community Foundation, Attn: Giles Miller, 200 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612. Go 9ers, let's win this year for the Debster.
Published in Contra Costa Times on May 30, 2010
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