Helen McAffee Debnam


BYRON – Helen McAffee Debnam died on March 23, 2018 in New York, NY. She was 88 years old. She was born on Jan. 13, 1930 in Rockford, Illinois the daughter of Lucille Lewis and Chester Alden McAffee.  

She was raised in Byron and graduated from Byron High School 1948. While in high school, both she and her cherished brother, Arthur, contracted polio in 1945. Arthur died, and Helen was hospitalized for a year of rehabilitation. Polio did not hold her back. She graduated from Beloit College in 1952. Helen then went on to teach elementary school in Madison, Wis., Portland, Ore., Suffolk, England and Yokota AFB, Japan. She married Thomas Finley Debnam, Jr. on April 5, 1957 in Tokyo. From there, they lived throughout the U.S., including Atlanta, Ga., Montgomery, Ala., and Kailua, Hawaii, with various USAF postings.

Upon her husband's death in 1972 during the Vietnam War, Helen returned to Byron with her three young children. As an active community member, Helen was the President of the Byron Women's Club and the Ogle County Republican Women's Club.  She also served on the boards of the Byron Museum District, the Bryon Forest Preserve and Ogle County Senior Services.  She belonged to the United Church of Byron, the DAR and the Rockford Colony of New England Women.

She is survived by her daughter, Lucy Anda, and two sons, Tom Debnam and Arthur Debnam; in addition to four grandchildren:  Helen Anda (Venice, Calif.), Elizabeth Anda (N.Y., N.Y.), Thomas Debnam (Galvaston, Texas), and Bailee Debnam (Chicago).

Helen enjoyed travel, politics, the arts, bridge, books, museums, PBS, NPR, lively discussions, laughter, cooking and her homegrown tomatoes and herbs. She especially loved her family.

Funeral service will be 11 a.m, Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at the United Church of Byron, 701 West second St., Byron, with the Rev. Dr. Jesse Tanner officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service from 10-11 a.m. at the church. Burial will be in the Byron Cemetery. In Helen Debnam’s memory, donations may be made to the Byron Museum of History or to the United Church of Byron. Visit www.farrellhollandgale.com to leave a condolence.

 

 

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