Deborah Anita Thomas (Debbie), 54, of Columbia, MD, peacefully returned to our Heavenly Father on December 12 surrounded by her loving family. She was born to the late Adelbert R. Thomas and Mary Theresa Thomas on December 22, 1964 in Washington, D.C. Debbie attended Hillcrest Heights Special Center from the age of 5 and earned the Maryland High School certificate in 1986. During that time, she was involved in the Young Adult Services (YAS) Program, where she bowled, folded towels for residential care facilities, and joined in at numerous dances and parties. Debbie participated in the Camp Shenandoah Summer Camp and placed in the Prince George’s County Special Olympics long jump and bowling. She moved with her parents and family dog, Pouf, to Centreville, Virginia in 1987, and during the following years, after the passing of her dad, relished a close relationship with her mom and loved all holiday related festivities with family and neighbors. In 2000, she and her mom moved to Columbia, Maryland to live with family, and Debbie engaged in various programs through the ARC of Howard County. She worked at Scientific Specialties Service, Inc. in Hanover, Maryland, placing liners in medicine bottle caps—she placed them at high rates of speed and was one of a few who could handle the more intricate caps. From 2004-2009, Debbie was also active in the Community Opportunities for Recreation and Enrichment (CORE) program at Howard Community College, where she received a Certificate in Computer Skills and enjoyed exercising, basketball, movies, restaurants, and swimming pool activities. In 2006, she completed the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) program at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church and during the Easter Vigil received her First Holy Communion and Confirmation sacraments. Her love of Jesus and His Holy Mother never faltered. Debbie was diagnosed with moderate stage Alzheimer’s disease in late 2015, and when care at home was no longer possible, she moved to the Genesis HealthCare facility at the Catonsville Commons Dementia and Long-Term Care Units in 2016.
Debbie was the youngest of 7 children and throughout her life proved to be the glue that held the family together—delighting them with her love of life, whether it was dancing, walking the board walk at Bethany Beach, eating pizza, or having Happy Birthday sung to her multiple times throughout the year. Debbie was truly remarkable in that she loved doctor and dental visits as well as overnight hospital stays.
Debbie was a loving and special daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She is survived by her devoted siblings, Laura L. (James Burgess), Christopher R. (Joyce), Charles S., Maria L. (Bernard Corona), Mary T. (Donald Hayes), and Cynthia. She is also survived by her nieces and nephews (Greg, Mark, Sarah, Matt, Chris, Bryan, Steve, Vince, Theresa, and Donny), and 14 great nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church (room 4), 10431 Twin Rivers Rd, Columbia, MD 21044 on Saturday, June 27th at 11:00 a.m.. Burial will be private.
The family wishes to express their utmost gratitude to all of Debbie’s dedicated caregivers. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: The ARC of Howard County (11735 Homewood Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042; https://www.archoward.org/) designated for “Activities Fund” and dedicated “in loving memory of Debbie Thomas”; or Gilchrist (11311 McCormick Road, Suite 350, Hunt Valley, MD 21031; https://www.gilchristcares.org/), directed to “Home/Residential Center Hospice Care”, with tribute “in loving memory of Debbie Thomas”.