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Debora "Debbye" (Burks) Karaffa

March 10, 1958 ~ July 30, 2019 (age 61)

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Debora “Debbye” Sue Burks Karaffa

Loving, compassionate, caring, full of energy and quick to laugh; “a good friend” and wonderful person. All of these words, and more, reflect the love and closeness so many people felt towards Debbye, when she joined God’s embrace on July 30th, 2019.  She passed away peacefully in her home in Santa Ana, CA.

Debbye was born in Mineola, NY and was one of five children; Sharon, Sheila, Sally and David, born to her parents, Dean and Margaret (Stalder) Burks. As an employee of Shell Oil, her father moved the family often and they lived in Seattle, Chicago, Puerto Rico, and New Jersey, eventually settling in Houston, Texas, where Debbye spent her teenage years. She attended Spring Branch Junior High and Memorial High School in Houston, and Chapelwood United Methodist Church, where she met many lifelong friends.

Debbye attended the University of Texas at Austin where she earned a B.A. in French and then went on to earn an MBA in International Management at Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management (AGSIM) in Glendale, AZ.  In high school and college, Debbye studied and spoke Russian and French, and studied abroad in France and Japan. 

Debbye loved her time in Texas and considered herself to be a Texan at heart, loving Bob Wills music, anything associated with U.T., longhorn cattle, blue bonnets, and armadillos.

As a wife and mother, she left behind a loving husband, David, and devoted children, Patricia (Thomas Blair), Travis and Tom. Debbye was married to her husband of 35 years on January 14, 1984. They shared a life of harmony, humor, enjoyment of their differences, and a love of their children, sailing, hiking, gardening and traveling.

Debbye touched so many lives through her many activities. Debbye was a 30-year member of the First Presbyterian Church of Orange where she was a choir member, deacon, elder and Women’s Group leader. As a teacher with Santa Ana Community College, Debbye was loved by her English as a Second Language students because of her dedicated style and humorous approach, along with a continuous supply of homemade cupcakes, cookies and brownies.

Debbye was an avid runner/walker, having run in many half-marathons to raise donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through “Team In Training”.

As her children were growing up, Debbye was actively involved in Girl and Boy Scouting, Job’s Daughters, band, and PTA.  To her family, she was a confidant and supportive, listening ear in any situation.

Debbye will be remembered by many for her lovely singing voice, her exceptional, unconscious whistling, her quick wit, her culinary skills, her love of all things French and Texan, her excitement at traveling to new places, her incredible ability to maintain connections across decades and continents, and her unflagging willingness to help others.

In lieu of cards and flowers, the family requests that you direct donations to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and MOMS Orange County, organizations that Debbye loved and supported.  The links are shown below:

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

MOMS Orange County!/donation/checkout

To plant a tree in memory of Debora "Debbye" (Burks) Karaffa, please click here.


Memorial Service
September 15, 2019

2:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church of Orange
191 N. Orange
Orange, CA 92866

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