Debra A. Gilbert (1966 - 2016)

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SOUTH BURLINGTON - Debra Ann Gilbert, 49, of 75 Hayes Ave., passed away peacefully after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis and cardiomyopathy, surrounded by her loving family, on Friday, March 11, 2016, at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
Born on Aug. 5, 1966, she was the daughter of John and Pierrette (Pellerin) Gilbert.
Always a strong person, Debbie beat long odds to survive two instances of the cancer Ewings Sarcoma. The disease led to the amputation of her right arm at the age of 12, but she would never let this condition get in the way of leading a completely independent and full life. The four years of chemotherapy she endured, however, did ultimately lead to the lung and heart conditions she was unable to overcome.
Debbie attended Williamstown High School, graduating in 1984, and Champlain College where she received her bachelor's degree in accounting.
At the time of her passing, she had worked for 20 years with the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) as a senior accountant.
She spent a good portion of her life as an avid traveler. Her many adventures took her all around the world, including Costa Rica, Botswana, Morocco, Thailand, New Zealand, Peru, Turkey, Spain, Ireland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and England. For many of these trips she joined hiking groups, leaving her with friends and acquaintances across the globe.
Debbie was an extremely active individual with many interests. She was a hiker who participated in hiking clubs for many years. She loved bird watching and berry picking. She was an avid reader and enjoyed live music. She was also a talented artist and photographer, whose works adorn the walls of many friends and family members.
She loved dining with friends, and was always acutely aware of her culinary surroundings. She loved to be the first to try a new restaurant or recipe. Her travels around the world often included an emphasis on local culture, and through this she developed a deep appreciation for ethnic foods. Her cabinets were full of spices from around the world, ready for her to weave into something special for her next dinner date.
After losing her dear friend in March 2005, Debbie was very active as a board member, treasurer and volunteer of the Laura Kate Winterbottom Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization focused on aiding survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse.
Besides her parents, Debbie is survived by three brothers, Patrick of Barre; Michael and his wife, Tammimarie, and their children Elijah and Wyatt, of Essex Junction; and Kevin and his wife, Sarah, and their children, Jonah and Norah, of Dublin, Ohio. She is also survived by her grandmother Alice Goudreau, of Barre, many aunts, uncles and cousins.
Debbie leaves behind her beloved cats, Ollie and Jezebelle, who always managed to lift her spirits through her most difficult times.
She is predeceased by an infant brother, Erick, her grandparents, Lionel Pellerin, Orance and Beryl Gilbert, and Maurice Goudreau. Debbie is also predeceased by her cat and companion of 20 years, Whitley.
Debbie's parents and siblings would like to thank the staff of The University of Vermont Medical Center, including a special thank you to Dr. Garth Garrison; and The Cleveland Clinic of Ohio for the outstanding care and hope they gave her as she fought in wait of a heart and lung transplant. They would also like to thank family and friends for their outpouring of love, support, generosity and prayer that lifted Debbie in her times of need. Debbie required 24-hour care over the last year of her life, and the countless hours of support provided by many different people leave a debt that can never be repaid.
A Mass of Christian burial and a celebration of her life will be held Saturday, March 19, 2016, at 11 a.m., at St. Monica Catholic Church in Barre. A later burial will take place at St. Sylvester's Cemetery.
Calling hours will be held Friday evening at the Pruneau-Polli Funeral Home, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
A celebration of life event will be held in the Burlington area at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Debbie's name may be made to the Laura Kate Winterbottom Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 65176, Burlington, VT 05401, or The Humane Society of Chittenden County, 142 Kindness Court, South Burlington, VT 05403.
Arrangements are in the care of the Pruneau-Polli Funeral Home, 58 Summer St., Barre.
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Pruneau-Polli Funeral Home Inc
58 Summer St
Barre, VT 05641
(802) 476-4621
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Published in Times Argus from Mar. 14 to Mar. 17, 2016