Deborah McGavin Harris

Family-Placed Obituary

DEBORAH McGAVIN HARRIS, Ph.D. Deborah McGavin Harris, Ph.D., 56, passed away quietly in her sleep in Gainesville, FL, on Tuesday, January 26, with grace and dignity following a long struggle with ALS. She grew up in Palm Beach, but lived in Gainesville for most of her adult life. Her parents were Bucky and Carmen Harris. However, in her 13th year, she also became part of Gavin Letts' family. She was a communicant of Bethesda-By-The-Sea and attended the Palm Beach Public School. She graduated from Twin Lakes High School. She earned her undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees from the University of Florida and became a highly recognized expert in her field of psychology. In her work as a school psychologist, she dedicated herself to finding the gifts and treasures in each child. At P.K. Young she developed and ran an innovative program for the gifted. She also created and directed Super Summer, a long-running camp for gifted children. Debby was a long-time member of the United Church of Gainesville. She loved Scotland, adventure, tennis, people, laughing and learning, but most of all she loved life and people. In meeting the profound challenges of ALS, Debby inspired those around her with her grace, courageous fighting spirit, and ever-deepening love of life, family and friends. She is survived by her husband, John and her daughter, Kate; sister, Jenell Miller; brothers, Bucky and Jim Harris and her "adopted" family, Dosty Letts and Sophy Letts. Her "adopted father," who guided her throughout her life, is the late Gavin Letts. Services were held on January 30, 2010 at the University of Florida's Auditorium followed by a reception at the New Engineering Building Rotunda. The service, which was attended by a host of friends as well as family, was conducted by The Reverends Sandy and Larry Reimer and Andy Bachmann. Funeral arrangements were handled by Forest Meadows Funeral Home. Please sign the online guestbook at To express condolences and/or make donations Visit
Published by The Palm Beach Post on Feb. 5, 2010.
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3 Entries

You and your daughter Kate are in my thoughts and prayers. One of the strongest impressions you made on me during our lunch together was your profound love and admiration for your wife Debby. You have my deepest sympathy and wishes for comfort during this time - Kim
Kim Zoltek
February 3, 2010
What a loving family! This family has taught us much through their example of love. Burt McKee
Burt McKee
January 29, 2010
John and Kate,
Just know Debby is up in heaven smiling down on you. We at United Rentals are keeping you both in our thoughts and prayers. If you need anything just let Jason or myself know.
Trina and Jason - United Rentals - Gainesville
January 29, 2010
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