Deborah McCabe


Joy, Deborah, Carolyn

Deborah died Friday, Nov. 12, 2010, in Orinda

Deborah was a member of the East Bay Threshold Choir, an enthusiastic and lovely soprano. She found the choir about 3 years ago and was with us for the Introductory Workshop in March of 2009. There was a delight that was so obvious on her face when she sang with us and when she contemplated our work. I’m so sorry that she didn’t get to as many bedsides as she would have liked. I know you all join me in sending love and prayers to her husband Gene and the rest of her family…. Kate

This quote came yesterday from her husband: “She has chosen to wear her favorite pearl necklace, and looks quite peacefully beautiful. We need your supportive thoughts and prayers now as much as ever”… Gene

Deborah loved to sing in the stairwell at Fairmont, where the reverb was terrific. In fact, Katharine Green and I sang for her there just last Thursday. One of her favorite songs to sing to clients was “Onawa’s Waltz,” as she was always looking for cheerful words. But in her last months of life, the song we sang most often together was “My Grateful Heart.”–Carolyn Knapp

Obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle

Sunday Nov. 21, 2010

Deborah Willey McCabe April 2, 1936 – Nov. 13, 2010 Resident of Orinda Deborah passed away at her home with her family after suffering from gastric cancer. Born in San Diego, California, member of a pioneer Walnut Creek, California family, she leaves her husband of 53 years Eugene McCabe, daughter Martha Poulos (husband John), son Charles McCabe (wife Lynn), 5 grandchildren, and sister Caroline Hansen. Her sister Helen Wyss preceded her in death. She attended Piedmont High School, earned her degree in rhetoric, class of 1958, at UC Berkeley, and later her MA in special education at Holy Names University. For 38 years, Deborah worked as an educational therapist, and was proud of the successes achieved by her students. She had a fine soprano voice, and sang in choirs, most recently with Threshold Choir, singing to patients at Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro. She was a prodigious reader, and loved to write poetry. She was an accomplished cook, and enjoyed entertaining friends and family. A memorial celebration for friends and family will be held at the Orinda Country Club at 2 PM, Tuesday, November 30. Donations may be made to Threshold Choir, P.O. Box 173, Inverness, CA 94937, or to the American Cancer Society.

Friday, Dec. 3, 2010

Tuesday was a hazy day, the first in a while, and it felt like a sad universe to me. Deborah’s memorial was at a snazzy country club and Carolyn and Joy and I sat with Gayle, her best friend from high school. We found Jeane after the service. (EBTC member who had brought Deborah to us.)

The minister was also a high school pal. He said some very nice things. *Then her husband spoke; very articulate, a little wry, obviously struggling with life without Deborah. Clearly they were very different kinds of people and had created a beautiful team together. Then each of their children spoke, Deborah’s older sister, and then Gayle.

The last person to speak was Ruth, her vocal coach. She was clearly emotional and nervous. She asked us to join her on “Over the Rainbow.” It felt good to sing. Then she played a recording of Deborah singing “My Grateful Heart” made 3 months before her death. Up until then there had been occasional sniffles and the sound of kleenex coming out of boxes; but now there were sobs throughout the room. I imagined all the men in dark suits were feeling how much life and liveliness Deborah had claimed so very close to her death.

I was feeling Deborah’s intention to face her death, with all the spark and dedication she could bring to it. And I was feeling a generosity of spirit that allowed Deborah to anticipate how wonderful it would feel to all of us gathered to hear her voice one more time. Singing a song that said so much, that meant so much to Deborah, to Joy, Carolyn and Jeane and to all of us. Click below to hear this recording by Deborah of “My Grateful Heart”: [sound file not available yet]

Thank you, Laura, for your beautiful song whose service goes on and on.

Thank you, Ralph (not his name), Deborah’s big fan at Fairmont Hospital who prayed for her all the time she was struggling, who has “locked-in syndrome” and thought Deborah sparkled.

Thank you, Deborah, for your smile, your sweet voice and your devotion to the choir.

Too many memorials lately.

All Blessings,