Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Archive for November 2021

Remembering Debby D. DeFee (1952-2021)

Debby DeFee 1952-2021

My stepmother, Debby DeFee, passed away early this morning, after a brief battle with a very aggressive form of cancer.

Debby was not an emotional person, but she was a good person, and we had developed a healthy adult relationship over the past 30 years, despite living under difficult circumstances when I was a kid.

Debby basically raised me from the age of 8 to the age of 18. I’ll just say we had a difficult relationship, and Debby was under incredible stress trying to manage me and my father and half a dozen small businesses at the same time.

After I left the house, Debby found purpose and satisfaction in her work. She got her doctorate in Nutrition/Food Service Management, assisted by a number of tremendous mentors at Texas Tech and Texas Woman’s University.

This work, and the education she was able to achieve, helped her rise above the difficult domestic circumstances she had lived in and liberated her to be the generous, hard-working person she really was.

She became department chair for the department of Food Service & Culinary Arts at Texas State Technical College and taught RHIM at a variety of colleges and state institutions in Houston and Waco.

She also met the great love of her life, a man named Jerry Gerhardt, whose gentle nature and endless patience gave her a home as he took her into his family.

Jerry’s daughter was with Debby in her final days and I will never be able to properly thank her for her kindness or the help she provided to my mother.

It took a while for her lessons to “kick in,” but Debby taught me the value of hard work and the importance of treating people with respect. She taught me manners and proper behavior and helped me rise above a trailer park background so I could be comfortable in a room with any group of people from any background.

Debby had a tremendous sense of duty. Duty to God, duty to her community, and duty to the institutions that she was part of. Her mother and father were deeply committed to Texas Tech, and the time Debby spent there, learning and working, were some of the happiest times in her life.

Debby specified no memorial and no obituary, so I hope everyone will forgive me for providing this one informally, for everyone who knew and loved her.

I only know a few of her friends from her time in Lubbock, so if you know someone who knew her, please pass this along.

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 26, 2021 at 17:12

Posted in Uncategorized