Deborah B. Dunten

February 3, 1943November 4, 2012

Deborah Carroll Burgess Dunten was born February 3, 1943 to Lucille and Starr Burgess in Melrose, Massachusetts. She passed away in Houston, Texas on Sunday, November 4, 2012, after a year-long battle with cancer. Deborah was preceded in death by her parents, and is survived by her sister Gail Burgess Wix, her daughter Amber Renee Dunten, her son John Howard Dunten, and her two grandchildren, Bethany Kate Dunten and Gregory Howard Dunten.

Deborah was known to her friends and family as a calm, cheerful person who laughed freely and often, gave much and asked little in return, defused conflict wherever it occurred, quietly imposed order on chaos, and gently motivated others to do their best.

Deborah and her sister Gail were the daughters of a Coast Guard family, and by the time Deb was 18, she had lived on all three coasts of the United States, having spent her early childhood in Massachusetts, moved to Seattle at age 12, and moved again to La Marque, Texas at age 15. She would remain a “transplanted Texan” for the rest of her days, although she never forgot her New England roots.

Like all the Burgess women, Deb was quietly stubborn and independent to a fault. Like every challenge in her life, she faced cancer with the traditional Burgess resolve. Even after becoming ill, she hated for anyone to make a fuss over her or be inconvenienced by her needs.

Deborah graduated from La Marque High School in 1961 and went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Home Economics from the University of Houston in 1966, and a Bachelor’s of General business from University of Houston in 1987.

Deborah was always artistic, and at various times in her life was avidly interested in painting, pottery, crochet, photography, and quilting. She leaves her family and friends a rich legacy of creative work. Deborah took up quilting late in life, but it became her most passionate hobby during the last 15 years of her life. Her friends and family continued to be awed by her creativity and grateful for her generosity in bestowing her beautiful works of art on those around her.

In addition to raising two children as a divorced mother, Deborah spent a long career working in technology support, which included working for NASA, many years working for Pennzoil, and several years working for Enron before retiring in 2002.

Deborah moved from Dickinson, Texas to the Heights in 1991 and lived there until her passing in 2012. She was active in the local community, and often donated cookies and handmade quilts, as well as her time and energy, to local civic organizations and charitable causes.

Although Deborah lived alone, she never lacked for company, and her little bungalow in the Heights was the site of many happy memories. They included College Night, when her daughter Amber’s college roommates and friends would visit for monthly home-cooked dinners, book club meetings, quilting bee meetings, and the annual convergence of friends from near and far for her favorite event of the year, the International Quilt Festival.

A memorial service for Deborah will be held at Heights Funeral Home Chapel, 1317 Heights Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77008, on Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm. Friends and family are welcome to arrive at 2:00 pm.

Those making travel arrangements may take advantage of the Bereavement Travel Service by calling 1-800-224-4177 and providing the reference number 2091. This service assists with locating the most cost-effective travel arrangements, including airline, car rental and hotel.

Cards may be sent to Heights Funeral Home or to 1123 Highland Street, Houston, Texas 77009.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to American Cancer Society, DePelchin Children’s Center, or Houston Food Bank.

“A quilter is the best friend because she gives you a piece of her heart forever.”


  • Visitation Saturday, December 1, 2012
  • Memorial Service Saturday, December 1, 2012

Deborah B. Dunten

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Liz Rundzieher

December 1, 2012

Knowing Deb through our neighborhood book club, "Gentle Readers" has indeed been a pleasure. She inspired us, kept us organized and motivated. Her wit and wisdom, her passion for reading inspired me to enjoy books I might have over looked. I will long remember her laughter, her amazing outlook, her creativity, her wonderful veggie soup, and her trademark t-shirts. It has been a pleasure knowing Deb, and I will miss her greatly. To those who loved her and cared for her, may your rich memories of her replace the feeling of loss in time. I have so enjoyed the collection of photos of Deb and her family...she was so adorable with that ready smile of hers! Rest in peace, my friend.

November 29, 2012

Our heart felt sympathy and love goes to each one in the family . May God comfort you at this time and may He help heal your heart as only He can do. Let the peace of God be with each one of Deborah's family in their grief .

Bob and Linda Hatfield
La Grange , Tx. 78945

Carol Champion

November 29, 2012

I met Deb through a Book Club, too. We were proud when we spent five minutes on the book while we met for dinner. I own one of her beautiful quilts--it makes me happy every day to see it. Her artistry was amazing; her courage in facing her illnesses and her resolve to live with joy anyway was inspiring.

Anne Goldsmith

November 17, 2012

I got to know Deborah through some neighborhood events. She was a great lady and graciously donated some quilts to silent auctions to raise money for the neighborhood. I was sorry to hear of her passing. She will be in my prayers.

Holly Gray

November 16, 2012

I am sorry to hear about your loss. Your family will be in my prayers.

Kenni Gale

November 13, 2012

So sorry for the loss of your dear mother. When I read the obituary, I couldn't help but notice that she sounds a whole lot like you. What an incredible lady and a full life she lead! I will continue to think of you and your family!

Joyce Combe

November 12, 2012

Amber,John and Gail
I am so very sorry for your loss of your dear mother and sister. She was a true Burgess to the end as I am sure my brother and I will also be. She was proud of her independence and her stoic New England upbringing. As you say she was a transplant to Texas but never gave up her New England roots.

I always looked forward to seeing her and Gail when Uncle Star and Aunt Lucille came to visit while they lived in Beverly. That time was too short however because the family moved to Texas and we lost touch for a while.

I will always remember the time she came to my house, when I was married and lived in Danvers, to introduce me to her beautiful daughter Amber. She was very proud of you as she should have been. The wonderful Burgess reunion that she planned, that was held in my daughter Kendra's yard, was another wonderful memory. Once again she was thinking of others such as my mother, who was at that time in her late eighties, and Deb wanted everyone to get together so they could all see "Aunt Sis" before anything happened to her. I could go on and on with the memories of our visits together over the years but suffice it to say she will never be forgotten.

I am glad that she is at peace and out of pain. Her family on the other side I am sure were waiting for her with open arms.

All my love to you and yours during this very difficult time.
Your cousin Joyce

Sharon Templin

November 12, 2012

John and Amber, I was so sad to hear of your mom's passing. Debbie has indeed a terrific lady and I have so many fond memories of her.

I was only 12 years old when she became my sister-in-law and she always came up with fun things to do like crafts or making homemade ice cream in the back yard and cool places to go like Westbury Square and shopping at Macy's downtown store - a real trip from LaMarque back then. She also cooked the best foods that I had never tasted before (ie, stuffed artichokes) and it was always a treat to eat at her house. I can remember when she hosted a Christmas brunch for all the ladies in the neighborhood and it was very gourmet and sophisticated .. and delicious.

I even met Dennis at her house when she hosted a Bay Area Singles Club meeting and I claimed credit for some of the terrific food she served. Truth is I had only mixed it up based on her direction. She probably is responsible for getting me a husband!

I am so sad to know that she is gone but I know she will always be loved and remembered, especially through her many beautiful quilts.

Sharon Dunten Templin

Barbara Bruce

November 10, 2012

Debbie and I met when she came to my office at NASA for an interview. I hired here immediately. That started a 30+ relationship, both work and as friends. When I left to go to Pennzoil it didn't take me long before I knew she had to come to Pennzoil. Both of us were divorced, with small children and she drove a hard bargain to go so far from home to work downtown. We started a vanpool and Debbie was our driver. Always dependable she would always find different routes for us to take when traffic conditions prevented us from our normal route. I took my first cruise with Debbie. We almost didn't make it because of system problems at work. When that plane took off we both sighed with relief. No cell phones at that time so we were free for seven days. I was so exhausted when we returned because we did everything the cruise offered.

Debbie was always there, ready to help. Even as her body failed her with pain and fatigue, she did what she could. I will miss her.

Lynda Abney

November 9, 2012

I have know Deb through our book club, "Gentle Readers". As our leader and organizer, she was masterful.. I hope with time, we will regroup and continue our little book club in her honor. She fought this cancer with a quiet dignity, but, also with a fierce determination. She will remain an inspiration. My sympathies to her family. Lynda Abney