Beloved daughter, sister, aunt, friend and doggie mom, Debbie was born May 20, 1949 in Bridgeport, Connecticut and passed away peacefully on June 15, 2023 after a long illness with her family by her side. She is survived by her two beloved dogs, Blue and Skye, her brother Hal High, her nieces Katy Boshart (Dean) and Becky Villavicencio (Faustino), and her nephew Tim High (Cara), as well as 11 grandnieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Betty (Smith) High, her dear friend Jennie Adams, and her other fur babies Heather, Terry, Lilly, Spunky, Pogey, Betts, Bo, and Alice.
Deb received her Bachelor’s in Physical Education from Boston University in 1971 and taught elementary Phys. Ed. in Keene, New Hampshire until 1977 when she moved to Clearwater, FL to take care of her mother after Betty’s cancer diagnosis. Deb remained in Clearwater until 1981 when she moved to Franklin, Tennessee along with her business partner, Jennie. They ran a successful psychotherapy practice together until Deb opened her own business, High Time, in the late 80s as a bookkeeper. She also worked as a manager on the night shift at a truck parts plant in Franklin for several years, making parts for Ford’s F150 model until she retired on disability due to her diabetes.
One of Deb’s great passions was her animals, and she rescued many cats and dogs over the years. At age 32, she decided to become a vegetarian as a way of protesting the treatment of animals, particularly cattle raised for beef products. She was also active on the board of an animal rescue society in Franklin for many years and a longtime patron of the Elephant Sanctuary of Hohenwald, Tennessee, where she sponsored an elephant eponymously named Debbie.
The early years of Debbie’s life were filled with sports- she loved being active, and personally enjoyed golf, tennis, boating and softball. Throughout her life, she championed kids’ sports and absolutely loved cheering on her nephew and nieces, and eventually grand-nephews and grand-nieces, in any sport they tried. It gave her great pleasure to watch sports long after her body could no longer participate.
Debbie was a great lover of people and gift-giving; she was known for shopping all year long to find and save little gifts for each of her family members that reflected things they loved. Nothing delighted her more than watching a nephew or niece open a box absolutely filled with individually wrapped gifts and seeing their surprise and joy at the abundance of trinkets.
After animals and sports, music was the other love of Debbie’s life. She learned piano from her mother, Betty, who was quite accomplished as a pianist. Her mother’s cherished piano sits in the living room of Debbie’s house in Fairview, and she loved to listen to music, particularly classical and the ladies of country music. Tennessee and the Grand Old Opry and Opryland held a special place in her heart.
Despite living with Type I diabetes for the majority of her life, Deb had a real zest for life, which included a love for roller coasters, water skiing, convertible cars and motorcycles, seemingly at odds with her deeply peaceful nature. One of her favorite places to be was at the beach, but if sand wasn’t available you could undoubtedly find her lounging on a raft in the pool, soaking up the rays. She will be remembered as the aunt with the uproarious laughter and a mean competitive streak, who delighted in playing games of any kind, even more so when she won, which was frequent. Above all, Debbie represented love- unfailingly positive, she believed in the goodness of people and the eternal love of God.
The family is planning a private celebration of Deb’s life for later this summer in Fairview, Tennessee.