Debra Loomis was the most dazzling and shining of souls. For 61 years, her life was a celebration of adventure, spontaneity, and most of all, friendship. She had an insatiable capacity to experience and share joy. After 12-years living with oral cancer, Debra died peacefully in her Middletown home with her beloved husband Davis and daughter Zoe, by her side.
Born in Tarrytown, New York, Debra was a true force of nature. A gifted artist and storyteller, her energetic spirit was a magnet to people of all ages. When her family moved to Palos Verdes, California, in 1960, she became a much adored school leader, including everyone in her invitations for merriment.
Debra attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara as a drama major, distinguishing herself in an award-winning theater group chosen to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. After college, Debra worked as a toy designer in New York and Los Angeles, while earning her law degree at night. She became director of Bet Tzedek Legal Services in the San Fernando Valley, California, continuing her lifelong passion for helping those in need.
A believer in love at first sight, in 1983 Debra identified
Alaskan river guide, Davis Everett, as her future husband on day one of a 12-day rafting trip. Together they founded Journeys East in 1985, offering independent travelers a unique cultural experience in Japan and happily creating a lifetime network of dear friends.
In 1988, they were married on top of Mt. Tamalpais and two years later gave birth to their greatest production, daughter Zoe Elizabeth Everett. Above all, Debra loved being a mom. Zoe was her unabashed pride, daily confidante, and her deepest joy.
Debra life’s motto was: Do at least one good thing for someone everyday. She far exceeded that expectation. She truly lived to give love to all who came into her life, a love that was non-judgmental and without grudges or resentment. She was a great listener and a “sister” to so many friends. Without fail every year, over fifty friends she held dear would receive a birthday card and an appropriate but quirky gift signed “Guess Who.” To her friends, the sender was never in question.
While guiding treks in the Japan Alps, Debra carried her infant daughter on her back. On these trips, Debra erased the group leader/participant barrier by sharing her personal history and encouraging others to do the same. As her oral cancer advanced, Debra continued to lead trips, wearing beautiful Japanese fabric masks, transforming an unsightly medical condition into a fashion statement. She never complained about her health challenges and forged ahead with her typical upbeat spirit.
Debra had a special ability to connect with children and could draw out even the shyest of kids. In the last years of her life, Debra volunteered in the local kindergarten class. She created such inventive lesson plans that the kids completely forgot she was wearing a mask. During that same time, Debra inspired friends and family to join philanthropic endeavors through a monthly newsletter, highlighting a cause dear to her or to one of her friends.
Debra loved bringing people together (the more the merrier) with total confidence that the affairs would be fun for all. For 24 consecutive years, she orchestrated an annual weekend gathering, inviting 50 to 60 friends and family to celebrate her wedding anniversary. Dressed in her inimitable fashion, she hosted the party, cast and directed a production of a Broadway musical, and coaxed everyone into a boisterous group sing-along. She also hosted numerous Chanukah gatherings, inspiring her many guests to laugh together while making plaster facemasks or homemade snow globes. On top of all this, she would feed the multitudes, cooking delicious meals without recipes, all the while keeping an audience rapt with her storytelling.
Sleeping on the dining table of a Guangzhou-Shanghai Chinese train in 1985, traveling the Scottish Hebrides in a gypsy wagon, or hitching a ride on an army transport vehicle from Kashmir to Ladakh were all documented in letters home, filled with her unique pen and ink drawings. Whether traveling the world or making decisions with unshakeable certainty, Debra was fearless.
Above all Debra was an impresario, the producer of her extraordinary life. She added richness to all the lives she touched, through community events, trips, dinners, theater productions and projects galore. Her creative and zany imagination amazed all who knew her, making them feel that magic was afoot and all was possible.
Her friends will always remember her kindness, inclusiveness, and most of all her unconditional love. She is survived by her husband Davis Everett of Middletown, CA, daughter Zoe Everett of Milwaukee, WI, sister Merry Loomis of New York, NY, nephews and nieces Caleb Everett, Silas Everett, Rachel Neill, Max Chimbel, and Sam Rawes, brother and sister-in‐law, Todd and Leslie Everett, and many adoring grand-nephews, cousins, and friends. Debra was predeceased by her parents, Bernard and Lillian Loomis.
A celebration of Debra’s life will be held on Saturday, July 11 at 2pm in Middletown, CA. Email Davis for more information -
Donations may be made in Debra’s name to Women for Women International.
Please join us in sharing thoughts and memories about Debra below.
Photos (we'd love these) can be emailed to Davis -