Deborah K. (Wright) Effemey, 63, narrowly escaped the Pentagon on Sept. 11 is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

Deborah K. (Wright) Effemey
Deborah K. (Wright) Effemey

Deborah K. (Wright) Effemey, of Williamsburg, died July 28, 2015, two weeks after her 63rd birthday.

She was one of the first female naval officers stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. Debbie joined the U.S. Navy in 1977 after deciding that she needed to see “all of the colleges in Virginia.” Debbie attended JMU, ODU, Thomas Nelson Community College and eventually graduated from the College of William & Mary.

Debbie spent 30 years in the Navy, retiring in 2006 as a captain. Debbie entered the Navy through Officer Candidate School, graduating in May 1977.

As a career Naval Intelligence officer, Debbie’s tours included stints in England, Spain, Greece, Bahrain, three years at sea aboard the USS George Washington and multiple duty stations in Virginia (Arlington, Virginia Beach and Suffolk).

Debbie participated in the first Desert Storm in 1991 while stationed in Bahrain as part of VQ-2. Debbie earned her master’s degree from the Defense Intelligence College. She also worked at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center where part of her job included conducting and evaluating joint operations with all branches of the service.

Debbie followed that assignment with her first real sea duty on-board the USS George Washington. Debbie was working at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, narrowly escaping the attack, as she was participating in a meeting very near where the plane hit the Pentagon. One of her final Pentagon tours was as one of the Naval Foreign Liaison officers where she would host foreign military personnel during tours of various U.S. military facilities; she called this her “party tour.”

Debbie was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 15, 1952. Her family moved to Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and eventually Newport News where she graduated from Warwick High School. As the oldest child, she set the example: She was respectful to her parents, worked hard in school and demonstrated which rules could be bent and which ones should not be broken.

Debbie met her husband Gary (Royal Navy) while his ship, HMS Bristol, was in Norfolk. Debbie was eventually stationed in London and her long-distance romance could become local. Debbie and Gary were married in 1982. Some of her tours were accompanied and some were not.

Debbie always made time for her husband and family. When she was overseas, she would come home as often as she could and participate fully in everyone’s life. At family functions, Debbie was assigned to bring the wine since she always brought “the good stuff.”

One of her other passions was sports cars and driving them fast. The family tried to keep track of all of the different cars she had over the years, but lost count. Another passion was gardening. Debbie and Gary both enjoyed working in their yard and planting and growing flowers of all kinds. Debbie loved flowers, the more colorful, the better.

Debbie fought a long and painful battle against Multiple Myeloma. Debbie’s drive determination and faith in the Lord helped sustain her in her fight, which helped her survive longer than many Multiple Myeloma patients.

Her husband, Gary, was by her side every step of the way. Debbie was a beautiful, smart, razor sharp person who deserved to live many more years. She loved adventure and fulfilled that with her career in the Navy.

Her family is grateful that, in the end, she died peacefully and was not in any pain.

Debbie is now with her dad (Andrew Wright) and brother (Benjamin Wright) in heaven.

Debbie will be sorely missed as a devoted and loving wife, a mentor to her siblings and as an example of living your life to the fullest to her niece and nephews. Debbie is survived by her husband and love of her life, Gary; mother, Dorothy Wright; sister, Judy Lyver, with sons, John Lyver, V and Tom Lyver; brother, Henry Wright, his wife, Lori Wright and their daughter, Lacey Wright; and her faithful four-footed friend, Daisy.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015, at Nelsen Funeral Home, 3785 Strawberry Plains Road, Williamsburg followed by a visitation until 2 p.m. Flowers can be sent to Nelsen Funeral Home.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Nelsen Funeral Home.

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