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OBITUARY

Deborah A. Dunn-Paultre

November 24, 1959July 5, 2021
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Deborah Ann Dunn, or Cookie, was born November 24, 1959 in Brooklyn, New York to John Dunn and Lela Long-Dunn. She earned the nickname Cookie from her father, big John Dunn, who was astonished at his first born’s now famous sweet tooth.

It was a sweet tooth that would last a lifetime.

As a child, she was a precocious and curious student. Those traits would also last a lifetime.

Deborah was amongst the first Black women to graduate from Brooklyn Technical High School, and over the course of her formal education earned a Bachelor's and two Master’s degrees.

She was a voracious reader.

She loved learning and sharing what she learned with anyone who had five minutes to spare. Let’s be honest, time to spare wasn’t exactly a prerequisite. She needed a more captive audience. And so her love for learning turned into a purpose, that purpose into a vocation, and after college she began a thirty-year career as a New York City teacher.

She was masterful in a classroom.

She adored her students, especially those the world gave very little to and expected even less from. She didn’t care. She was going to love on them until there was nothing more to give. She expected greatness from them, and in turn, each day the great Ms. Dunn would pour all she had into her students.

However, there was never any doubt whom her heart belonged to: Raymond Hector James Paultre, Jr. Despite growing up in adjacent neighborhoods, the two wouldn’t meet until college. And what began as a flirtatious relationship between a cheerleader and baseball player quickly turned into a proposal, sort of. When asked by another ballplayer who Deborah was, Raymond replied:

She’s my girlfriend.

And so she was. They would marry in 1982 and begin a love affair that was the stuff of cheesy romance novels. Together they had two children, Raymond Antoine and Lela Ashton. Of course, they were devoted parents - prioritizing schooling, church, ballet recitals, basketball practices, and summer trips to Disney World. They picked every pickable tree, plant, and fruit in Long Island.

Sadly, like all of God’s children, she would also face adversity and tragedy. Before the birth of Lela, Deborah was diagnosed with Lupus. And five years later, at the age of 35, on the morning of November 18, 1995 she would lose her soulmate to heart failure.

Of course. She would never be the same.

The story of Deborah, though, is not one of tragedy but of love, grace, and perseverance. Instead of giving up, she doubled-down, devoting more time to her children, her extended family, her friends, her students, her pink bible, and her church community. And all the Christmas decorations this side of the Mississippi. If it’s possible, Deborah became even more Deborah.

And she was that until she left us the morning of July 5, 2021. Fully that.

Deborah is survived by her two children: Raymond and Lela; her baby sister: Beverly; sisters-in-Law: Fernande, Ingrid, Edith, and Elizabeth; Brothers-in-Law: Phillipe, Dominique, and Benjamin.

She’s going home now, to be with her God. To be with her husband. To finally see her mom again and argue with her dad.

Deborah is home.

Services

  • Visitation

    Friday, July 16, 2021

  • Funeral Mass

    Saturday, July 17, 2021

  • Interment

    Saturday, July 17, 2021

Memories

Deborah A. Dunn-Paultre

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Debra Michlewitz

July 16, 2021

Deborah was a beloved member of our YMCA community and family. She was such a generous presence, sharing stories about her extraordinary work as a teacher, as a dancer, and as a mother to her fabulous children. I saw those gorgeous photos of the tea party! I heard about those great milestones! We stretched together, did yoga together, zumba-ed together, and shared the pool. She was a comfort and an inspiration on a daily basis. My text log misses her. No one could find better graphics, better philosophy to share. Her messages were sincere and positive, always positive. She was a most beautiful piece in the puzzle of my daily life. I know she'd say that piece has transitioned but right now there's still an empty space. I hope the good memories sustain all who miss Deborah. There are so many.

Denzel Bullen

July 14, 2021

Ms. Dunn was a wonderful teacher and an excellent role model. She helped me build the foundations for being a better writer, reader, and person all together. I will continue to embody the principles and practices that Ms. Dunn helped me discover in school, and I can only thank her for being an excellent teacher and mother figure that all the children looked up to.

Taneisha Lamour

July 14, 2021

It’s difficult to put into words how amazing this women was, but what I can say is that Ms. Dunn was a person who I truly believe was meant to be a teacher. She created both a safe and encouraging environment for us which felt like a home away from home. Everyday, she demonstrated how passionate she was about us students and showed us the importance of words and how impactful they could be. Many of my core values today were taught in her classroom five years ago and I will always be thankful that I was able to be taught by women as amazing as Ms. Dunn.

Tiana Jackson

July 13, 2021

Ms. Dunn was the greatest human being I have ever met. Losing a teacher that has heavily impacted your life is never easy. Walking into her classroom, you just felt a calming energy all around you preparing you to learn. She has shared so much with me about dance and dance theatre of Harlem, that during my first year of Highschool I saw her at one of their performances. Even after leaving the school she taught at she allowed me to keep a pillow and a stuffed animal from her classroom. I will forever treasure everything she has taught me and given me.

Angelica Benjamin

July 13, 2021

Deborah’s love was unconditional, she saw good and hope in everyone and loved her students dearly. She always had a poem, or a song to drop in your hearing to encourage you. She brought cheer into the spaces she entered even at the Cross Island YMCA, the swimmers, yoga and Zumba classes, everyone knew Deborah and she took time to know everyone. We taught together, laugh together and shared our passions and retired together. I thank God for sharing DDunn (Dr. Philemy’s nickname to her) with us, Our lives are made richer for the gift of her precious life. I pray we all cherish the seeds she planted along the way.

Chioma Madu

July 13, 2021

Ms. Dunn and I bonded particularly on our love for the author Jodi Picoult when I was in the 7th grade. She told me that her daughter was also a fan of Picoult and had a collection of her books. Every month, she brought me a new set of Jodi Picoult books to borrow. We used to talk about the plot of each book during our lunch breaks or after school. She even let me keep the book “The Tenth Circle”, which is still my all time favorite book. Ms. Dunn opened a new world I never knew before with reading. She is the reason why I still enjoy books today. Rest easy Ms. Dunn❤️🕊

Alaylah W

July 13, 2021

Because of Ms.Dunn the women who loved purple and reading I have on the back of my door since middle school our affirmations and she always talked with love one of kindest loving people I have ever met. I wish I could have seen her since I graduated high school she would have been proud.

michele f

July 13, 2021

Where do i even begin? Ms Dunn is literally the reason i can’t stand books on the floor. She reminded me of the importance and i everytime i see one i hear her voice in my head. To this day when i want to revisit something in a conversation i shout rewind!! just like her and now listening to the RENT soundtrack won’t be the same. She’s taught me so many lessons that stick with me to this day and she’s one of the most genuine people i’ve ever met. Forever You Ms Dunn 🤍🕊

Melissa Houtte

July 13, 2021

We first met Deborah shortly after her son Ray moved to our rural neighborhood south of Miami. They loved walking in the neighborhood, and one afternoon we invited her, Ray and Lela to tour our hodge-podge of palms and tropical fruit trees. Deborah was curious, funny and lovely, as are her children. We fully expected to see her on many more visits. We are so sorry for your loss, Ray and Lela. Sincerely, Melissa & Bob

Linda Hill

July 12, 2021

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