Friends and family gather together at Tuttle Park to sing a song for an unsung heroine

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A Facebook memorial page, more than 100 in attendance at the Tuttle Park memorial, and still it feels like Debbie Woods’ life needs more songs sung about her as an unsung heroine in El Cajon.

A Facebook memorial page, more than 100 in attendance at the Tuttle Park memorial, and still it feels like Debbie Woods’ life needs more songs sung about her as an unsung heroine in El Cajon.

“Same story, different people” said Mike Lopo of the positive memories, funny anecdotes, and descriptions of Woods’ character many would tell of Debbie. Lopo served as vice-president during Woods’ turn as president of the El Cajon Western Little League. Debbie, aka Debra Joyce Woods born and raised in East County, was active in E.C.W.L.L. from 1986-2001.

Lopo’s comments about Woods, who passed in August at the age of 61 from complications of diabetes, were just a micro-slice of the stories to be heard at her memorial held Thursday, Aug. 28, at El Cajon’s Tuttle Park.

Her memorial contained a potluck, a memory photo board, her quilts were displayed on the diamond field, with comments shared at a mike, and was followed by a slideshow of photos.

Several of her grandchildren released balloons in her honor Mathew, Emily, and Spencer Junior.

Her biography reflects a myriad of hats as nurse for more than 40 years at Sharp, president of the E.C.W.L.L., member of the Kaleidoscope Quilt Guild, wife of Donald, mother to three sons Adam, Spencer, and Dylan and a grandmother. 

Mike Hayes, of Alpine, knew her for years and said her years with the E.C.W.L.L. were like Wood’s “second job.”

Sara Ramirez, with the City of El Cajon’s Park and Recreation department, described Woods’ as “A rock star. She believed in accountability.”

Woods was also a Council President for the El Cajon Parks and Recreation Department.

According to her husband, Donald, she gave time, money out of her own pocket for kids if they needed anything, and love doled out to many of the little leaguers she encountered.  

Woods’ son, Adam, shared the story of his parents romance with it unfolding by meeting at their best friends’ wedding followed quickly by Donald proposing to Debbie three weeks later.  Her friend, Becky DeSelle, described the two as soul mates.

What also leaks into stories about Debbie is the word “Dare-devil” from friend, Mrs. Chris Lee, and all reiterated stories about her sense of humor and having “a lot of kid” in her. 

Debbie fell out of bed so many times on a quilter’s road trip she was duct-taped to a bed.  She ran thru the shooting water streams at Horton Plaza on a dare. Trips dressed in costume to the TV game show Let’s Make A Deal followed by her friends fleeting thoughts of how they would appear on national TV, in silly costumes, sprouted up. Her kid side was always a millimeter away from being acted on.

In the hospital, shortly before her death, Lori Lopo shared the story of how Debbie, out of the blue, told her “When I see Casey (Lopo’s departed son) I’ll take care of him till you get here.” 

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