Deborah Ann Harris (nee Steele), 68, of Elizabeth, NJ, beloved sister, mother, grandmother and friend, passed away on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 in Maplewood, NJ, after a valiant 2.5 year battle with esophageal cancer.
Debbie was born on November 23, 1951, in Elizabeth, NJ to Santa (DiDolce) and David Steele. Debbie grew up in the Peterstown section on 3rd Avenue, in a two-family house, upstairs from her lifelong best friend, Vinny Malta and his family. The kids from the neighborhood became some of her best friends.
It was Vinny who introduced Debbie to Rusty, the love of her life, after he rode by on his red Schwinn bicycle in 1965. On November 17, 1973, Rusty and Debbie got married at the old Villa Roma. Over the next 43 years, they dedicated their lives to their family and friends. Saturdays and Sundays at their house in Roselle Park were filled with music (the Allman Bros, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, CSN&Y), neighborhood kids (like the Pattersons) and lots of cooking. Legend has it that the smell of Debbie’s Sunday afternoon meatballs and gravy traveled as far as two blocks away! Together, Rusty and Debbie raised three children, became grandparents and enjoyed many late summer afternoons on the beach in South Seaside Park. When Rusty died in September 2014, a part of Debbie went with him.
Debbie made friends anywhere and everywhere. She met and became friends with fellow passengers on the NJ Transit train and bus, with co-workers from Gibbons where she worked as a legal assistant, with fellow bereaved loved ones at the Center for Hope in Scotch Plains, with amateur cooks on Facebook with whom she never met in person, and in the last years of her life, with the dedicated and compassionate nurses at Advanced Care Oncology in Springfield.
Left to mourn her passing are her children Kelly (Brendan), Russell (Laura), and Matthew; her grandchildren Thomas, Kate, Russell, Margaret, Brendan and Melanie (to whom she called her “adopted granddaughter”); her siblings Diana, George (Sherry), Donna (Don) and Denise (Andy); her beloved sister-in-law Kathy (George) and brother-in-law, Victor Guidetti; and many nieces and nephews.
The family would also like to acknowledge the love, compassion and care given to Debbie by Ronide Dessources during the last weeks of her life. We will be forever grateful.
Visitation will be from 4pm-8pm on Sunday November 22, 2020 at Higgins & Bonner Echo Lake Funeral Home in Westfield. Funeral mass will be held on November 23, 2020 at 10:30am at St. Anthony’s Church in Elizabeth. Entombment Rosedale Cemetery, Linden.
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