Debbie Blackwell

Obituary of Debbie Blackwell

A lifelong resident of Santa Cruz, Debbie passed away from cancer at the age of 65 on July 25th at Dominican Hospital surrounded by her loving family. 


She is survived by her devoted husband of 41 years, Greg, son Brian, daughter Alison and her husband Simon, step-daughters Amy and Sarah, mother Ann Carle (Ifland), brother Kevin Carle, his wife April, and their sons Scott, Marshall and Shane, all of whom mourn her loss, as do many other loving aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, sister and brother in-laws, and cousins. She is preceded in death by her father Robert M. Carle.


Debbie was born on September 5, 1953 in Santa Cruz at the Old Dominican Hospital (now Branciforte Plaza) to Robert and Ann (Ifland) Carle and grew up in Live Oak, attending Harbor High School before completing her degree in history at UCSC in 1975.


Debbie and Greg first met playing a volleyball game at Twin Lakes church as part of the Singles Dimension group and began their courtship soon after. They were married at First Presbyterian Church on Mission Street in 1978. Their love and devotion to each other lasted throughout their marriage, which brought them two wonderful children, Alison and Brian, who adored their mother and of whom Debbie was immensely proud. Debbie and Greg celebrated their 41st anniversary shortly before her passing, as deeply in love as they were when they married. 


Debbie and her brother Kevin co-owned Riverside Lighting and Electric, having purchased the business in 1977 from their father Bob and their Uncle Norm who started it in 1952. Debbie, her husband Greg, and Kevin ran the business together for 42 years until Debbie’s passing. In this time they established Riverside Lighting as a staple of the Santa Cruz business community. Debbie and her son Brian worked alongside each other for over 10 years, and the bond they shared together was a very special one. 


Debbie was extremely talented in business, helping to carry Riverside through several recessions and financial hardships. She had a discerning eye for design and stayed on top of the latest trends and had a keen sense of what would appeal to a customer, even if it was something she wasn’t fond of herself. Her “Dickens Village” display was a feature of note amongst locals at Christmas time and brought joy to Riverside’s customers, young and old.


Family was at the center of Debbie’s world, and she was never happier than when surrounded by her loved ones, such as at Sunday gatherings at her mother and late father’s house--with family who will dearly miss her kind and pure heart. Consistently putting others before herself, her generosity of spirit extended well beyond her family. She supported causes and organizations she felt made the word a better, more loving place...She gave more than she ever took.


Debbie possessed a curious mind and sought to continue learning about the world throughout her life. Her passion for learning also made her a patient and effective teacher to her children and others, who looked up to her for her wisdom both in life and at work. Her deep respect for education was an influence on her daughter Alison, who became a teacher and shares her mother’s belief in learning as a means of developing one’s character and compassion.


Along with spending time with her family, Debbie would enthusiastically take on projects around her house and garden, creating a beautiful home in which she would love to relax with her husband and regularly entertain friends. She enjoyed being outdoors and was a lover of animals - her beloved grand-dog Buddy was perhaps her fondest companion outside of her family. She was a fan of art, music concerts, theatre, going to farmers markets and garden centers, and though she liked to travel, she always loved her home and it's beautiful setting. 


Debbie loved to help others and was always there to listen and provide support to her family and friends. She will be remembered by those lucky enough to know her for her thoughtfulness, her compassion, her smile, her wit, intelligence, grace and patience. She was a woman who loved, and is loved, who will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by family and friends alike. 


A memorial service for Debbie will be held at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 420 Melrose Avenue, Santa Cruz on Saturday, August 17th at 11am.


In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Debbie’s memory to Trinity Presbyterian Church or Cancer Research. 

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Memorial Service

11:00 am
Saturday, August 17, 2019
Trinity Presbyterian Church
420 Melrose Avenue
Santa Cruz, California, United States
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