Debra Ann Deutsch, a former teacher at Loma Vista Elementary School, died at her Ventura home Wednesday after a lengthy illness. She was 46.
Deutsch was born Sept. 7, 1951, in Chicago. She was raised in Chicago and attended Northern Illinois University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree. She taught special education in Chicago for four years.
On May 2, 1976, Deutsch married in Chicago. She met her husband, Dr. Gary Deutsch, on a date that was set up by a close girlfriend, her husband said.
The couple moved to San Francisco in 1977, where Gary Deutsch studied medicine and his wife taught. They moved with their first son to Ventura in 1980.
For more than 10 years, Deutsch was a full-time homemaker who cared for the couple’s four sons, now ages 11 to 19. In 1993, Deutsch began teaching special education at Loma Vista Elementary School, a position she kept for four years, her husband said.
“These students had difficulty merging and blending into a 40-person classroom. Her goal was to get them up to par and make them feel better about themselves and get them to merge back in,” Gary Deutsch said.
Students who were elevated to middle school and high school would often return to Loma Vista to thank Deutsch for her instruction, her husband said.
Deutsch enjoyed running, tennis, snow skiing and camping with her family at Yosemite National Park and at parks in Utah.
She had several friends, many of whom cared for her during the last few months.
“Her girlfriends became her extended family,” Gary Deutsch said.
Deutsch was a member of Temple Beth Torah in Ventura. She was preceded in death by her father, Sidney Melshenker, who died in 1990.
In addition to her husband, Deutsch is survived by her four sons, Gordon, Adam, Ryan and Tyler; her mother, Lilyan Melshenker of Chicago; two brothers, Albert Melshenker and George Melshenker, both of Chicago; a sister, Lynn Rissman of Chicago; and several nieces and nephews.
There will be a memorial service at 10 a.m. Sunday at Temple Beth Torah, with Rabbi Lisa Hochberg-Miller officiating. Interment will follow at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park in Ventura.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Debbie Deutsch Special Education Fund, in care of Ventura Education Partnership in Ventura.