Deborah Elizabeth Lara-Rios laid her head on her pillow and in the early hours of June 28, 2020 while sleeping and dreaming of her next adventure she was called home to the Kingdom of her Lord. [ 2 Corinthians 5: “…to be absent from body is to be present with the Lord.” ]
Deborah or “Debbie” was born in Los Angeles, California and was lovingly called, “My Debbie” by her parents, Arnold and Gloria Lara. Mom and Dad remember Debbie as “a pretty chubby baby that loved to be carried and played with. She didn’t giggle like most babies she laughed and that made us laugh too. We often wondered what she was laughing about. We can see that her desire to be carried and played with turned into a desire to always be around family and friends. “
Debbie shared a home with a large family, and loved to be surrounded by family, friends, pets and stray pets that always found our doorstep. Debbie was affectionately called “Baby Sis” by her siblingsand we have enough stories to fill a book as thick as the Bible. But, in every life story you hear the words “hold her own”, “mischievous”, “feisty”, “generous” and yes “stubborn” as well!
Eldest brother, Arnold Lara, tells of the time he was teaching Debbie how to box and despite her young age she was listening intently. When it came time to box, (with the boys no less) she just did it without hesitation, complaint, or even a whimper. As Arnold says, “she was totally into it!”
As the eldest sister (Diana Lara) I often saw the mischievous side of Debbie. You see, Debbie rarely sat still and being the eldest daughter, I would often be sent to find her. I would find Debbie outside playing with the family pets, or at a neighbor’s house and often down the street trying to coax a stray animal towards her for eventual adoption; which did not take much because she was a magnet for strays! When found, Debbie always flashed that smile. It was not a calm Mona Lisa smile, but a mischievous energized grin that is evident in almost every family photo!
Older sister, Laureen Smith, fondly recalls Debbie as “feisty”. I asked why? Without hesitation she says, “Debbie had so much spunk and courage to do things. Every Christmas Debbie would wait for mom and dad to wrap presents and when they would leave, Debbie would muster up the courage to break into the presents. While mom and dad did errands I was The Lookout as she intricately removed tape and peeked inside the presents. I was a nervous wreck and Debbie was as cool as a cucumber. The worse thing about this venture was she never told me what each present was and always giggled”
Older brother Paul Lara explains her generous side best, “While young teens I observed Debbie watching a lady in the neighborhood who was walking alone every time. One day Debbie walked up to her and talked to her and immediately opened ourhome to her. Her name was Della and as Debbie seemed to sense, she was alone, and she was lonely. Debbie had a reputation for finding those that are abandoned, lost or lonely and she did this from a very young age not just with animals but as you can seealso with people. Della had friends in our home and most likely we were her only family thanks to Debbie and her generous heart.”
Debbie was “Big Sis” to one sister, Kathy Larawho warmly recalls the bravery of her Big Sis. “As youngsters Debbie taught me many a life lesson that carried on through adulthood. One of these lessons was bravery. You see when I was about 6 years oldand Debbie 8 we walked down the street with mom. For some unknown reason a dog went after me and without thought or hesitation Debbie jumped in front of that dog and tried to stop it from attacking her baby sister.” What 8-year-old does something like this? That would be Debbie, whom even at a young age lived on her own terms.
Debbie joined her older brother, Mark Lara, in the Kingdom of Heaven to continue the close relationship they shared on earth.
Los Angeles had a very special place in Debbie’s heart. Not only because it was where she was born, educated or because she lived many adventure packed years in L.A. but because this is where her two beautiful daughters were born.
Affectionately called “mom” by Regina Barnes, her eldest daughter, and Lara Barnes, her second daughter, these three musketeers shared a life of adventure and love. Debbie created a protective cocoon for her girls and as Regina tells it, “Mom was strong and brave when it came to us. If I needed something or someone was bothering me, I knew I could tell my mom and she would just take care of business and she did. Mom was a badass mama bear! “
The third member of the three musketeers, Lara, shares this, “Mom was always there when I needed her even before I had a chance to call her. I would just be thinking ‘I need my mom’ and she would call. Mom never gave up on us about anything, she was fierce, and she was strong!”
In every family story it is obvious that family was the most important thing in Debbie’s life. Despite having a full time schedule with work, family, church and more she still made a point to see and spend time with all her aunts and cousins. To this day I will never know how she could accomplish so much in one day. Family were the jewels of her empire; it wasnot money or material, and this is clear in how she lived her life and raised her daughters as they create theirs.
If you spent any time at all with Debbie, you knew she was the wild child of the family. You knew she was beautiful; equally as beautiful cleaning the house or attending a wedding. You might say it wasimportant to her to always look good. But her priorities shifted when she became “Nana” with birth of her first grandson, Paul Greer. They shared a very special relationship that far surpassed the boundaries of earth. As Paul shares, “My nana was loving, my guide, there was nothing she wouldn’t do for me. And that was so real when she said, ‘she would even help me hide the body’. And there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for her. She pushed me, always, to do my best no matter what. She had my back and I had hers. “
Soon Paul will have a son of his own. He will tell his son, “Your Great Nana was the craziest, most extravagant, most beautiful and greatest person that I have ever known. She loved you even before you were created, she knew you were a boy and she knew who you were. You have a guardian angel”
Debbie opened her door to many and created a large extended family. One of these special people is her stepson, Angel Rios, known to the family as Little Logan. Technically they had a stepmom/stepson relationship, but this was not how Debbie did things. Little Logan explains it best, “Mom (Debbie) was always there when I needed something and so often just asked if I was okay. She was a genuine person. She made me feel at home from day one. She was sweet, caring, and always helped if she could. I always remember her tough love but learned to see it was done from her heart. She made the simple things in life special such as those drives through Angeles Crest. I wish I could capture those times like a photograph, but I will settle for keeping them in my heart.”
Debbie was equally excited with the birth of her next two grandsons, Daniel and Michael and loved them fiercely and unconditionally. Her excitement was again set alight when she discovered she was to have a granddaughter. She welcomed Evelyn to the world with these words, “You are strong, you are smart, you are beautiful and you can be whatever you want to be.” She heard her sister Laureen say this often to her granddaughter and knew she would do the same with her first granddaughter. And despite the fact that these originate from a movie they are powerful and today little Evelyn is surely strong, she is smart and she is beautiful!
Debbie was lucky to meet her soulmate, Logan Rios, who most lovingly called her his “Babes”. They met in 1999 but as Logan says , “I did not think she would ever give me the time of the day, she was too beautiful”. But little did he know she liked him and 21 years later they had created a wonderful life together. As Logan says, “Debbie was beautiful, strong, and strict but she got me to where I am now. Her influence molded me to who I am now” Logan and Debbie balanced each other out with his strengths lifting her when needed and her strengths lifting him when needed. They truly were rice and beans! Family members often remark how amazingly calm Logan could be with Debbie’s normal speed of 5thgear. And, how she eventually learned the joys of being able to simply sit with Logan’s arm around her shoulder, their beloved Pixie on her lap and enjoy an episode of Law and Order, Debbie’s favorite show! They were lucky to find each other, and we are thankful to Debbie for making Logan part of our family.
Debbie touched many more lives than anyone really knew, and this could be seen when Facebook lit up with countless photos and stories. What she meantto many was revealed in these posts with thesefrequently used terms and expressions: selfless, caring, warrior queen, talented, always there when needed, hardworking, endless energy, stubborn, clever, energetic, strict, bossy, and even bully when needed.
You could not truly celebrate Debbie’s life without acknowledging her many experiences and adventures:
As a Career Woman she was both organized and dependable. Doing all that was expected of her and more! She made friends at work that lasted decades.When she was finished with work she volunteered at her church and continued to improve herself by joining groups such as the local Toastmasters group.
She treated cousins as sisters and friends and cousins! She was always there for you even when not asked. If you had a birthday, she gave you a party. If you were expecting a child, she organized the most amazing baby shower comparable to those doneprofessionally! If you had a barbeque, she brought famous her mac n cheese that to this day no one (except grandson Paul) know the recipe! And, if you had too much to drink at a party, she got you home!
Debbie was an athlete and she studied karate in her early days, kickboxing as an adult and tai chi in her later years – all with the same enthusiasm and commitment that she had for everything else she did in life. She loved aerobics, zumba and circuit training and often would do a class before work and a class after work. She made it a point to try ziplining & parasailing and so much more.
Debbie saw the country with many a cross-country trip. Every year Debbie drove her father to his annual Veteran Reunion and along with her husband, Logan, and other family members they saw states like Missouri, Georgia, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana and parts of California not before seen.
It was Debbie’s wish that no formal service be held as she preferred to be
remembered in life. But if you wish to share in celebration of her life you can make a donation in her name to her church, the Boulevard Community Church. You can make donations online www.blvdcc.com Or mail your donation to Boulevard Community Church, P.O. Box 8458, Lancaster, CA 93539 (661) 942-1932.
We are proud and blessed to have had Debbie inour life on this earth and now in the spiritual realm as well. Debbie made it very clear that she is keeping an eye on us as a protector, nurturer and guide! She truly was a best friend, cousin, sister, nana, mom, daughter and wife.
Debbie you live on in heaven, you live on in our hearts forever.
'" 1 Corinthians 2:9 : "That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. '"
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