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Born: Jul 25, 1953

Date of Passing: Apr 10, 2019

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July 25, 1953 - April 10, 2019

With profound sadness we announce the passing of Deb, loving and devoted wife, mother, sister and a friend to all whose lives she touched.
Deb coped with her illness with strength and dignity but succumbed to cancer on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at the age of 65.
Deb will be lovingly remembered by her husband of 45 years, John, her sons, Chesney, Kellen and daughter-in-law "her girl", Lesya. Deb will also be lovingly remembered by her sisters "the twins", Judi Neufeld (Peter Neufeld) and Joni Mines (Gordon Jackson).
Family and friends were Deb's passion and delight. With her husband John, she enjoyed hosting dinner parties and entertaining at their home and on their houseboat. Her hospitality was renowned. You were always welcomed to stay for a drink, a meal or overnight. Deb adored children and was a surrogate grandma to many friends' children and grandchildren.
Deb was an instructor at Red River College for 30 years, retiring in 2016. She was the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Facilitator at the College and a celebrated leader in the implementation of RPL practices across Canada and abroad. Deb served on many provincial and national organizations related to Recognition of Prior Learning. She was a passionate advocate for continuous lifelong learning.
Deb lived by Jack Kerouac's motto: "Be in love with your life. Every minute of it." She will be forever remembered.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of Deb's life will be held on Thursday, July 25, 2019 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Qualico Family Centre, Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg.
The family wishes to thank all of those who cared for Deb during her illness, including CancerCare Manitoba, the kind staff at Gimli and Selkirk Regional Health Centres and Doctor Ian Alexander. Heartfelt thanks to the many friends who stayed in touch during this time.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Deb may be made to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, 1160 - 675 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 0V9 or online.


Make a donation to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Apr 13, 2019

Condolences & Memories (27 entries)

  • John, Sarah and I are so sorry to hear the very sad news about Deb. Although I did not know her well personally it really feels like I did from all the stories you’ve shared with me over the years about her work at RRC, all the dinner parties and good times raising the boys over the years. Please know that we are thinking of you and the boys right now. - Posted by: Ian Carpick (Business associate of John’s) on: Apr 22, 2019

  • I was so sad and shocked to hear about Deb’s passing. John I am so so sorry. I loved serving Deb -John and friends at Seagulls restaurant. She was always so friendly and happy, did not let on at all she was sick. I feel with my job I am so lucky to meet great people and she was one. Tuesday night’s table will not be the same. My thoughts and prayers are with John and family and of course all of her “dear” dinner friends. Love Tracey - Posted by: Tracey Robertson (Friend) on: Apr 22, 2019

  • Deb was a friend, mentor, and passionate educator. Her ability to make any and all feel comfortable in any setting was truly amazing. Hospitality extraordinaire was her forte in her own home. Deb's commitment and dedication to the Recognition of Prior Learning field of practice was unsurpassed. Her leadership will be sorely missed. The world will be poorer without her. - Posted by: Ann Pedersen (work colleague and friend) on: Apr 19, 2019

  • I was so very sorry to hear of Deb's passing. She was my friend and colleague and in both roles helped me to grow into a better person.Her kindness and gentle diplomacy served her well throughout her life and she will remain "a part of all who she has met". My heartfelt condolences to John and family. - Posted by: Joy Van Kleef (Friend, colleague, admirer) on: Apr 18, 2019

  • I was profoundly sorry to hear of Deb’s passing. I got to know her through the CAPLA board. She was one of the original advocates for PLAR in Canada... committed, dedicated and hard working for the cause of those who deserved and needed recognition. Beyond that, she was a smart, fun and caring woman. We had lots of hours together working hard and later enjoying evening social time together. Everybody loved Deb. She spoke lovingly and often about her family, whom she adored. My thoughts are with you all during these difficult days. Sincerely, Maria Desjardins - Posted by: Maria Desjardins (CAPLA Colleague) on: Apr 17, 2019

  • I am so sorry to hear that Deb is no longer with us. All I can think about since I heard the sad news is the energy and all the caring that Deb used to bring to all the people around her. Her smile brings hope and happiness to her friends and colleagues. Deb was taken away from us way too soon, she was special. - Posted by: Haider Al-Saidi (Colleague) on: Apr 16, 2019

  • Such devastating news; my condolences to John and the rest of Deb's family and friends. Many of the things I would say about Deb have already been said. I admired her kindness, sense of humour, love of family and friends, and her expertise in PLAR and her devotion to her colleagues and learners. I worked along side Deb and others in many initiatives with PLAR. We were a close-knit group in large part because of Deb. I worked for Deb for several years; she was supportive, encouraging and so capable. I loved her. - Posted by: Sandra Aarts (Colleague and friend) on: Apr 16, 2019

  • Reading Deb's obituary on Saturday morning was received with devastating shock, disbelief and tremendous sadness. I (Valerie) worked in the Early Childhood Education Department at Red River College from 1982 until 2001 and during those years always had the pleasure of Deb's presence; she was a delightful person! She became a mentor to many, including myself, and her presence would always lighten up any room. The world has lost a great "lady", both professionally and personally. Deb has truly deserved to receive her Angel Wings but she has done so long before her time was due. Tony and I wish to express our most heartfelt sympathy to her husband John and family. She has created a void in your lives that could never be replaced. Deb will be missed by many and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her. May this bring you some comfort as you endure the most difficult time in your lives. With love and blessings, Valerie and Tony Kent - Posted by: Valerie and Tony Kent (Valerie (Former Coworker at Red River College)) on: Apr 15, 2019

  • It is with a heavy heart that I write this tribute. Deb was the best friend and colleague one could have. She was like a twinkling star in the dark night. Her strong and caring spirit will continue to be with us, I am sure of that. It was a pleasure and a privilege to know and work with her. I am saddened by her passing and wish to offer my condolences to John and the family. May she rest in peace. Take care, Deb Paul Zakos - Posted by: Paul Zakos (Friend, colleague and co-conspirator ) on: Apr 15, 2019

  • My heart is broken to learn this sad news today. Deb was such a joyful person and it was a pleasure to share time with her over many years. She blazed the trail for RPL practice and never waivered in her commitment to share its value as widely as possible. Rest easy, dear friend. - Posted by: Pat ROBERTS (Friend and former CAPLA Board Member) on: Apr 15, 2019

  • Please accept my deepest condolences. Deb was my mentor in Recognition of Prior Learning, a colleague with CAPLA and someone I deeply respected and admired. Her gentle and caring ways are always something I will treasure. I think of her often. - Posted by: Karen Willy (Peer) on: Apr 15, 2019

  • My sincere condolences to John and family, I will always remember Deb for her laughter, her commitment to family, to RPL and to her friends. But above all, I will remember her for her humility and gentleness. - Posted by: Gaelyne MacAulay (RPL colleague and friend from PEI ) on: Apr 15, 2019

  • What a lady. What a role model. What a mentor. What a teacher. What a friend. - Posted by: Eleanor Conlin (Friend in plar. Partner and contributor in many many workshops and national conferences ) on: Apr 15, 2019

  • My deepest sympathy to John and family. Deb spoke so highly of her family whenever we were together. I had the pleasure of working with Deb on PLAR initiatives across the country. Deb was so much fun to spend time with! She demonstrated so much commitment and had such a lovely and happy way about her. I am so sorry to learn about her passing and I know she will be missed by many. You are in my thoughts. - Posted by: Roberta Burke (PLAR Colleague) on: Apr 15, 2019

  • Deb was one of the most caring and kind ladies that I have ever known. Her care of my son in daycare at the U of W with her staff was exceptional. Deb and John were some of the best times back in the day. To John and family, you have my heart felt love and support. - Posted by: Don Mayor (Friend) on: Apr 14, 2019

  • My sincere condolences go out to Deb's family. I was deeply saddened to read of Deb's illness and passing. I worked closely with Deb in the early years of PLA, now RPL, at Red Fiver College. It was a pleasure and fun. We have certainly lost a good person and a wonderful advocate for facilitating life long learning. - Posted by: Donna Meder (Foremr teaching colleague) on: Apr 14, 2019

  • Sorry to hear of Deb’s passing. She truly was a leader in RPL and will be missed by her colleagues across Canada and beyond. - Posted by: Barb Gustafson (Colleague ) on: Apr 14, 2019

  • Sorry to hear of Deb’s passing. She truly was a leader in RPL and will be missed by her colleagues across Canada and beyond. - Posted by: Barb Gustafson (Colleague ) on: Apr 14, 2019

  • I worked with Deb at RRC to put on the RPL courses. She had a wealth of knowledge and was a huge advocate for RPL for all. Always smiling, well put together and such a lovely person to know. She has been missed at the college and will continue to be so. Rest easy Deb - Posted by: Melissa Fontaine (former co-worker) on: Apr 14, 2019

  • It was always a pleasure to work with Deb. She was completely commited to the RPL program at RRC. Its success was was a testament to her hard work and tireless advocacy for the recognition of prior learning. Through RPL individuals were evaluated and could receive diplomas or certificates based on their non formal or related education and work experience thusly being eligible for employment they otherwise would not be eligible for. The number of indivuals whose lives were improved by her program is truly significant. We all want our lives to have made a difference, there is no doubt that Deb's did. - Posted by: Dave Gurney (Work colleague) on: Apr 13, 2019

  • John, Sandy and I are so sad to hear this news. Though Sandy only worked directly with Deb on a few occasions , she did say that “everyone knew Deb” and that she was liked and well respected throughout the college. She will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Ches, Kellen, and all your family at this time. - Posted by: Randy & Sandy Luke (Friend and business associate) on: Apr 13, 2019

  • So sorry for everyone's loss, Deb was an amazing woman to work with and welcomed us to her home with open arms. She will be truly missed by so many people. - Posted by: Sylvia Chidlow (Past co-worker) on: Apr 13, 2019

  • Our deepest condolences to all Deb’s family and friends at this time of great loss. - Posted by: Debbie and Ted Jones (Aquaintance through Deb’s sister) on: Apr 13, 2019

  • Our deepest sympathies to John and family. We will always remember the friendship and good times we shared when we were neighbours and all the fun times we had when we would go to Grand Forks. We were all just starting out and it was a special time in our lives. Deb was a special person and we will always remember her. - Posted by: Chas and Sharon Sass (Friends) on: Apr 13, 2019

  • Deb was my child care instructor in 1980. She was my Red River College colleague from the 1990s-2015. She welcomed me with a warm “hey Conni!” whenever we met. She worked with patience and professionalism always. She taught me how to solve problems with an open mind. She shared small winks with me during tedious meetings. She listened. She is already missed. - Posted by: Conni Cartlidge (Colleague) on: Apr 13, 2019

  • I'm so very sorry to think that Deb is gone from this world. Her deep caring for family and friends will long be remembered. Deb was the first "babysitter" for my newborn daughter - a warm memory! Love to you all. - Posted by: Iris Rountree (Friend and colleague) on: Apr 13, 2019

  • Our deepest condolences at the passing of Deb. We remember Deb for her contagious smile, laughter, warmth, kindness and hospitality. Heather and Ken Millar and family - Posted by: Heather Millar (Cousin) on: Apr 13, 2019

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