DEBORAH ANN (nee WHITLAM) died September 1, 2016 at home with her loved ones by her side and a smile as she departed. Debbie valiantly survived a 2 year and 7 month battle with colon cancer. She beat the odds, in spite of most chemos not being effective. Her determined spirit, faith and strong support system of family and friends cheered her on. Loving mother of Donna Jerry. Dearest friend and 40 year life partner of Liana Holton. Preceded in death by her parents, Elmer and Dorothy Whitlam of Grosse Pointe. Survived by her sister, Kathy Martin, of Imlay City, and many caring nieces and nephews and members of the Holton/Prakken family. Also survived by her cousins, Bob Hale (Nancye), and Skip Whitlam, both of Florida. Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1939, Debbie spent her childhood and middle years in Silver Spring, MA where she freely roamed the ravines and outdoors. Her mother gave her a watch at five years old and was told to be home for dinner. This helped to develop her independent spirit. She moved to Grosse Pointe as a teen in 1954. Debbie was highly educated and wonderfully creative. A 1957 graduate of Grosse Pointe South High School, she attended Albion College from 1957-1958 and belonged to Delta Gamma Sorority. She continued on to graduate from Oakland University with a Bachelors and Masters degree in elementary education with a major in math. She was a devoted, innovative elementary teacher in Bloomfield Hills from 1974-2004. Her passion for educating her students was unmatched. Early on, Debbie was trained in 'Success in Reading & Writing' out of Duke University. Novel lessons for learning inference skills were taught through the pictures of Monet to Van Gogh and then transferred to reading text. Later, she was trained by Susan Kovalik in creating thematic lessons which helped the brain make connections. 'Hands-on' and 'being there' experiences were at the forefront of all lessons. Frequently, she was called Mrs. "Math-i-more" because of her talent with helping children understand and grasp mathematics. Upon retiring, Debbie tutored and served at Emerson School in Detroit as a Reading Corp volunteer. Her love for her students bridged all of the learning gaps. She was often heard saying, "Good thinking." Debbie was an all round athlete but especially an avid and great golfer. A voracious reader who loved the power and beauty of words, she immersed herself in mysteries and suspense novels of authors like John Grisham and Lee Childs. Her reading was diverse and encompassed the latest youth favorites like 'The Hunger Games' to Bill Bryson. She always had a que of books waiting. Whenever a back up occurred on the golf course, out came a book. A never ending learner, she re-exposed herself to French in the last three years and continually kept up with technology. Her youthfulness of spirit from swinging on vines and climbing trees at seven matured into online gaming with her daughter and students at age 77. Curious, logical and a great problem solver, she explored puzzles from jig-saw to road rallies to crossword puzzles, Sudoku to cryptic codes in Games Magazine; which tested her ingenuity and knowledge. A bridge enthusiast. Very spontaneous, she never lost her sense of adventure. She played golf December 13, 2015 when the weather warmed up to the 60's. She loved traveling to England, Scotland, France, Italy and Hawaii, as well as throughout the USA. Debbie needed and loved her sleep. She religiously went to bed at 9 p.m., getting no less than 10 hours nightly. May her eternal sleep be filled with vivid memories and heavenly dreams of unknown possibility. A Celebration of Debbie's Life will be held from 10:30 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the Heather's Club, 900 Upper Scotsborough Way, Bloomfield Hills 48304, Saturday, September 17, 2016. Donations in her honor can be made to: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Published by Detroit Free Press on Sep. 11, 2016.