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OBITUARY

Debra "Debby" Ann Robbins

October 7, 1953June 25, 2018
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Debra “Debby” Ann Robbins passed away on June 25, 2018 in Tucson, Arizona after a valiant and protracted battle against a sudden illness. She was born October 7, 1953 in Sentinel, Oklahoma to Harold Odell and Roberta Marie Ward. While in high school Debby met George H Robbins II and they were married on June 17, 1972 in Wichita Falls, Texas. Shortly thereafter George was ordered to active duty in the US Army and they embarked upon various tours that included duty stations in Georgia, New Jersey, Okinawa, Hawaii, and Mississippi, ultimately landing at Ft. Huachuca, AZ. Debby and George loved Sierra Vista and the Huachuca Mountains so they decided to stay. In 1980 George traded his uniform for civilian attire, and in May 1980 Debby blessed the family with a beautiful daughter Kristen.

Debby was very supportive and active in Kristen's education, career, and the special functions that went along with Kristen's job. Debby also managed to put up with George's rough edges for over 46 years with patience and grace. Debby was independent and single handedly ran the family when George was away on his many TDY trips. Debby cared deeply about family and friends. She helped George take care of his father when he relocated to Sierra Vista. And she devoted tremendous time and effort taking care of her parents back in Texas, to include relocating her mother to Sierra Vista. Quite simply Debby was a loving wife, mother, and best friend to both George and Kristen. She was the wonderful glue that made us a special family. To say that we miss her deeply is a gross understatement.

Debby is survived by her husband of 46 years George H. Robbins II, daughter Kristen Yvonne Robbins, mother Roberta Ward, brother Larry (Linda) Ward, nephew Lenny (Jessica) Ward, niece Lorie Ward and Sedona puppy and Elvira kitty. She will be missed by many extended family and loving friends.

In accordance with Debby's wishes the family had a private service on Friday, June 29, 2018, in Mesa AZ. George and Kristen invite you to visit Debby's Memorial website to sign the Register and share memories and photos with us and each other at www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/mesa-az/debra-robbins-7895169.

  • FAMILY

  • George Henderson Robbins II, Husband
  • Kristen Yvonne Robbins, Daughter
  • Roberta Marie Ward, Mother
  • Larry Dale Ward, Brother
  • Linda Ward, Sister-in-law
  • Lenny Ward, Nephew
  • Lorie Ward, Niece

Services

  • Private Family Service Friday, June 29, 2018
REMEMBERING

Debra "Debby" Ann Robbins

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Carole Groth

August 19, 2018

Dearest Krissy and George...
I am heart broken with the loss of your dear Debby. I am so grateful to have known her and shared her notes and the privilege of knowing you.
I can well empathize with your grief, it comes out of the blue and we are at a loss to do anything about it.
May God be with you and yours through this trying time.
Know that there are those that love you and care about you and will be there in your time of need.
My prayers are with you... I love you. Carole

Alan Balzarini

August 9, 2018

July 27, 2018

George and Kristen:

May the peace, which comes from the memories of love shared, comfort you both now and in the days ahead. I want to let you know you both are in my thoughts, please accept my most heartfelt sympathies on the loss of Debby. My prayers are with you both during this difficult times. Debby was a very nice, gentle, and loving person welcoming in her family friends with open arms into your home making them feel like part of the family.

Again my heart goes out you both in this time of sorrow,

Alan B.

Audra Langford

August 3, 2018

I had the privilege of "taking" care of Debby!! I was SO blessed & honored to call her my friend. I am so sorry George & Kristin. I know Debby will be tremendously missed. Thank you for all the gifts I received over the years, I have cherished them. I will miss seeing her smiling face at the office. Love you all!!

Barbara King

July 29, 2018

Our Dearest George and Krissy, I am so heartbroken that your Debby is no longer here with you, but hopefully it's comforting to you knowing she is still here with you in spirit and love. I hope when you think of her, you'll remember the good and happy times you lived with her, then you'll be at peace. I, for one, thank her for letting me be a Passenger on her Train of Life. Take care, stay strong, and continue to be your loving, kind selves.

Hoss & Judy Hoskins

July 26, 2018

George, Kristen!

Our hearts are saddened and feeling very empty with the news of your loss. We, you, Kristen and everyone who knew (our) Debbie has lost the love, friendship and wonderful sense of humor that was forever her. May God take you and Kristen to his breast (with love and compassion) to keep you strong. Just you as we know he has done with Debbie. Hoss and Judy.

Hoss & Judy Hoskins

July 26, 2018

George, Kristen!

Our hearts are heavy with the loss of one of the finest ladies we have ever known our friend Debbie. We have in our hearts a great sadness, as we know, exists in yours and Kristen's. I hope and pray that God takes care of you both as I know he is taking care of (OUR) Debbie right now. We love you both. Hoss and Judy.

Peggy Tenney

July 14, 2018

Krissy, I am so sorry that I didn't know about your Mom. I was in shock. She's so young. I wasn't aware she was in the hospital.
I remember meeting her when we worked together. She was such a pretty lady and very creative. You have inherited that talent.
May God bless You and your Dad and Grandmother in your journey ahead. Love Peggy

Roberta Stultz

July 13, 2018

Krissy, I remember most, the gracious hospitality your Mom and Day showed me when I went with you to Sierra Vista to help with a service , such warm and caring family. Also the fun with the Halloween display at your house in Mesa. Your Mom was so much fun, a great loss to all who knew and loved this special lady.
Love and Prayers, ( I forgot that your Gram's name was Roberta too.)
Love and Blessings,
Roberta

William Perry

July 12, 2018

Susan and I want to give or sincere condolences to your family for your loss of a best friend, wife and mother . Debby will not only be missed by the family but by all the many friends that she had acquired through her life time. We were not privileged to have been able to see and talk to her in many years due to our move from AZ to GA but we will never forget our friendship we had with her.

July 1, 2018

July 4, 2018

You will always live in our hearts and prayers.

Biography

Debra Ann Ward was born on October 7, 1953 at Stower's and Hanna's Hospital in Sentinel, OK. She was the daughter of Harold Odell and Roberta Marie Ward. Debby was raised in Sentinel and Hobart, OK and Burkburnett and Wichita Falls, TX. Always at the ready with a quick wit, she grew up to be quite an intuitive person. While some who knew Debby might describe her as an idealist, her friends and family understood well that Debby was always in pursuit of life’s endless possibilities and opportunities available to her. Debby was raised with one older brother, Larry. Debby was always accepting and supportive of her family.

      As a young girl, Debby was able to empathize and identify with a vast array of people and personality types. This quality drew her into a diverse group of friends and acquaintances. Debby was intelligent and had little trouble getting along with her peers. She was almost always the first to jump in when it came to playing games or participating in other childhood activities. In her spare time she liked collecting and playing 45 RPM records. Debby had the ability to find amusement with almost any activity she and the many childhood friends she shared might discover.

      Debby graduated from SH Rider High School in 1972. She was a very good student, and did well in her courses. Classmates considered Debby a good listener, knowing that when necessary, they could go to her to discuss just about anything. Her favorite class in high school was Home Economics.

      On June 17, 1972 Debby married George H Robbins II at Fairway Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, TX. She was quite supportive of George's US Army career, accompanying him to duty stations at Ft. Gordon, GA; Ft. Monmouth, NJ; Ft. Buckner, Okinawa, Japan; Ft. Shafter, HI; Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, MS, and Ft. Huachuca, AZ. Debby was goodhearted and sensitive, qualities that served her well in helping to nurture her family and take care of her parents in their later years.

      Debby blessed the family with a daughter, Kristen Yvonne in 1980. Debby was a natural and creative parent who was willing to provide her family with all sorts of new and interesting experiences. For Debby, being a good mother came naturally and was a particularly enjoyable and pleasurable part of her life. Debby was especially supportive of Kristen's activities and interests. She supported and encouraged Kristen's activities in her school choirs, but more than that continued to support Kristen as an adult with her community outreach programs as part of her job. Debby participated in numerous neighborhood activities at Lakeshore Mortuary and at the Dobson Ranch Park in Mesa, AZ. She made Halloween costumes for our family, as well as Halloween "goodie bags" for the annual Halloween event at the Dobson Ranch Park. Debby also hand crafted hundreds of bracelets and necklaces for children at the Easter Egg Hunts at the Dobson Ranch park. She made other crafts to sell at the annual Lakeshore rummage sale in support of the American Diabetes Association. And Debby participated in and raised money for the ADA Step Out for Diabetes walks with Kristen and George. Debby was uplifted by new ideas and was excited by life’s possibilities, traits that made her an exceptional wife and mother. Because Debby loved to have a broad variety of activities in her life, she took advantage of the opportunity to pursue numerous hobbies. Her favorite pursuits were making crafts, stamp collecting, traveling, and watching animals of all kinds. Debby had a knack for being able to create time for all of her favorite pastimes.

However, Debby's ever-present concern for others - especially her parents - always took precedent. For example, when Marie's natural gas line to her house developed a leak the gas company shut off the gas in the winter until repairs could be made. Debby did not hesitate - we made a quick trip to Texas and brought her to live with us for three months until the gas service was restored to her house.

Another trip in January 2013 to get Marie to live with us for an extended visit. Debby cared for her in our home from January through August 2013.

In April 2015 we made another trip to Texas to accompany Marie to doctor's appointments and bring her to Sierra Vista for another extended visit. Debby took care of Marie in our home from April 2015 through February 2016. At that point Debby needed a respite from the care she was providing to Marie, so Marie moved into Prestige Assisted Living on a trial basis. She loved it and lives there to this day, having developed new friendships and becoming very active. Marie decided this was where she wanted to stay and that it was time to sell her house in Texas. Debby told her we would bring her belongings to Arizona before the house sold. So in 2016 we made 5 round trips to Wichita Falls, TX to start bringing Marie's things back to Sierra Vista and get her house ready to sell. Marie's house sold in May 2016 leaving us 3 months to get the house cleared out. Debby went through everything in the house, every piece of paper, every keepsake – sorted and packed 50 years of living in the house. She held a garage sale, donated some things to Goodwill. In those 5 trips we brought the furniture, household items, keepsakes, everything back to Sierra Vista. That was a tough year on Debby but she wanted to get all Marie's belongings to Sierra Vista where she and Marie could take their time and go through everything.

These are just a few examples of Debby's devotion to her family. Take some time to view the photos on this and subsequent pages and you will see that "Family First" was not just a cliche to Debby. She lived it. I am certain these acts of kindness and self sacrifice played a large part in Debby earning her Angel Wings.

      Debby's love of improvising in her daily life was a perfect fit for her enjoyment of traveling. Her favorite vacations were ones that were not planned. Traveling in a casual manor fit her personality well. Excited about seeing changing scenery and constantly looking for the enjoyment life could offer, Debby made vacations out of the many trips the family made to Texas to help and support her parents as they aged. Favorite vacations included trips to Carlsbad, the Grand Canyon, and a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in 2016.

      Debby was a lover of animals and cherished her pets. Sassy, a Long Haired Dachshund, was a best friend for 10 years, and Sedona, another Long Haired Dachshund, was another best friend for 11 years until the day Debby passed. Sedona misses Debby to this day, spending time sitting at the door waiting for Debby to walk in the house.

      Debra Ann Robbins passed away on June 25, 2018 at Casa Hospice at the Hacienda in Tucson, AZ. Debby fought a protracted and brave battle against what started as pneumonia and developed into Sepsis and Septic Shock. She is survived by her husband George, her daughter Kristen, her mother Roberta, and her brother Larry. George and Kristen held a Witness Cremation at Melcher's Mission Crematory in Mesa, AZ. Debby's cremains are in the possession of her husband and daughter.

      There was always a certain style and inventiveness to Debby. She was a kind, self-expressive person who was forever looking to celebrate the endless possibilities life had to offer. She had a knack for being clever, creative and witty, and for others, was a joy to be around. While she was often fiercely independent, it seemed as if many others looked to Debby for inspiration, leadership, wisdom, and certainly courage. Debby was a fighter to the end, and set the example of courage, grace and determination that Kristen and I can only hope to strive toward.


EPILOGUE – Debby's Fight with Sepsis

I wanted to write this description about Debby's fight to recover from her illness and all its complications. I believe this shows what a fighter she was. All through this she was concerned about Kristen's and my welfare. She was always thinking of others.

Debby (and her mother) became ill in mid-April and were both diagnosed with pneumonia. They were given antibiotics and a steroid shot. Marie got better; Debby got worse. On 24 April I took Debby back to the doctor – she could barely breathe and could barely walk into the office. Her O2 saturation was 72%. The doctors called an ambulance – she went to the ER. They got her on O2 but could not get her saturation up where they wanted it. She was admitted into the hospital, but she was getting worse. A doctor said she had Sepsis in addition to pulmonary problems. On the 26th she was moved into ICU. About mid morning she went into ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and pulmonary failure. She almost died then. It took three doctors and 4 nurses to intubate her and get her on a ventilator to stabilize her. At that point one of the ICU doctors told Kristen and me they had no fallback plan – no where to go if she got worse in Canyon Vista Hospital in Sierra Vista. She needed to get to a facility with a pulmonologist. They brought in the helicopter and flew her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tucson. Kristen and I followed in the car and got there about 10 pm to find her stabilized in the ICU. Of course with the breathing tube down her throat she was heavily sedated and not awake.

She stayed in the various ICUs at St. Joseph's for 5 weeks total. Right off the bat her kidneys failed requiring dialysis. Then and she developed an ileus – similar to a blockage of the intestines. After a few weeks they extubated her and kept her on a CPAP. She finally woke up. But then her abdomen suddenly distended. It tool them a week to discover she had a perforated Cecum and performed an emergency ileostomy on the night of 15 May. She now had an ostomy pouch and was re-intubated and not awake. Then the ICU personnel noticed her pupils were not dilating correctly and her involuntary cough response to suctioning the trachea was gone. They did a brain CT Scan and detected a stroke. That meant they needed to get her off the blood thinner she had been on since her 2002 blood clots. So they inserted an IVC (Inferior Vena Cava) filter to catch any blood clots that might break free.

The ICU doctor said she had been on throat intubation too long and they needed to do a tracheotomy into her windpipe. They performed the tracheotomy, kept her on the ventilator, and also inserted a PEG feeding tube through her abdomen into her stomach. She gradually woke up and there appeared to be no damage from the stroke. She appeared to be getting better, so they discharged her from the St. Joseph's Neuro ICU into an LTACH – Long Term Acute Care Hospital of which there were only 2 in Tucson. I had toured them both and selected Cornerstone Hospital. We went to Cornerstone on the evening of the 30th of May.

She was fighting through it all. The trachea tube was removed but the incision had developed MRSA. The incision on the abdomen for the ileostomy developed a hematoma and had to be reopened, drained, and then a wound vacuum applied. Still she was improving, fighting through physical therapy. Then the blood clots hit her legs. She had pain in her right leg one day; they did an ultrasound and found a huge clot in her right leg. Then the week of 18 June she developed pain in her chest. Over the next day it subsided a bit, then came back worse. Friday 22 June she started labored breathing. Kristen was in Tucson with us that weekend, thank God for that. On Saturday things were getting worse and we had a private meeting with the doctor and Charge Nurse. We think a clot got through the IVC filter to the lungs – a pulmonary embolism. The doctor proposed going back on intubation and the ventilator, but had no suggestion for the clot but to put her on Heprin and hope it didn't cause more or massive strokes. I had spoken with the vascular surgeon about removing the clot in her leg, but the consensus was that it would just return without putting her on blood thinner. The nurses advised us against the Heprin route, and we agreed. We did not want to risk a massive stroke.

There was no way out. We asked Debby what she wanted to do. She said she had enough, the fight was over. She just wanted to be pain free and let nature take its course. So we move into palliative care on Saturday afternoon with increased morphine and Oxycodone. Debby continued that very labored breathing but was mostly unconscious. At times we would talk – she would whisper to Kristen and me, tell us what she expected of us. Lots of tears, lots of promises. We had some wonderful nurses at Cornerstone. They said it was time for hospice.

On Sunday the 24th of June a hospice nurse from Casa de la Luz Hospice at the River visited and agreed it was time. We moved Debby into that beautiful hospice on the evening of the 24th. The hospice folks were wonderful. I spent the night with her as usual, Kristen had to return to Sierra Vista to spend the night and prepare to return to Mesa the next morning for work. At 2:28 am Monday, 25 June, Debby died. I got to say Goodbye to her, reassure her, and make some promises.

I called Kristen – she was the Funeral Director for Debby. She had already notified her folks in Mesa that the time was close. Her boss – who oversees all of the Phoenix SCI assets – and the manager of the crematory personally came down to transport Debby to Mesa. Kristen followed them to Mesa. We made final arrangement the next day at Kristen's mortuary. In accordance with Debby's wishes Kristen and I had a witness cremation the morning of 29 June.

Looking back I'm convinced the original infection caused Sepsis, and Debby went into Septic Shock on the 26th of April. I had not heard of Sepsis, but did quite a bit of reading on it at St. Joseph's. The mortality rate is almost 70%. If you don't know about it, you should. It's a killer that not many people know about. It is what caused Debby's other organs to fail in cascade fashion.

Kristen and I are devastated. We never saw this coming. Debby fought all the way. Kristen and I know she fought very hard to make it to 17 June – that was Father's Day and also our 46th wedding anniversary. That was a great day. What a fighter! What a lady! She really earned her Angel Wings.