Debra A. Beebe
27 Years Old

June 8, 1961 to January 6, 1989

Before Debra Beebe from South Bend, Indiana could read, she loved books and wanted someone to read to her. Her grandfather was great at that and no matter how many times the same book was read, she would say “Read again, PaPa.”

Debi was very nonviolent in nature. She liked to ride her bike and play games that were not rough in any form.

Throughout Debi’s school years, she continued to read. As her personality developed, she had a wonderfully wry sense of humor. No matter how stupid something was that she did, she would tell about it and laugh at herself. Debi was polite to others and could not understand why other children were not the same way.

Debi and her brother Dave were very close. Family gatherings were important to her.

Debi graduated from Indiana University as an honor student, being elected into Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society. While in college, she worked many odd jobs for extra spending money. She cashiered in a gas station, pedaled an ice cream container and worked in the school office.

After graduation, Debi went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to get her Master’s Degree in Social Work, specializing in Mental Health. One of Debi’s major projects was finding shelters and food for homeless people in Madison so they would not freeze during the cold winters. She was successful and was honored. Debi was remembered as the little girl coming to the shelter with a big dog.

After Debi’s death, we received a call from a man who used the shelter. He wanted us to know she was remembered.

Debi worked in a halfway house for Goodwill Industries. The clients and staff loved her. She made special birthday cakes, planned parties, helped with costumes and anything else that would make life better for clients.

Debi made such an impact on people’s lives. One of her professors, Mona Wasa has told each class of students about her. Mona has written several books on mental health. She wrote about Debi in one of her books.

We could not allow this 27 year old young lady to be forgotten. We established a scholarship at the University of Wisconsin School of Social Work for graduate students who wanted to work with the chronically mentally ill. Four scholarships were given one year. We know Debi would be proud that her work is continuing.

Goodwill Industries built a six-apartment home for those with mental disabilities who can live independently. It was named the Debra Beebe Apartments. It has a Board of Directors and was dedicated in October 1993. We attended the dedication and felt such love from those who spoke in Debi’s memory. Through this, we get comfort, knowing how proud Debi would be…..


On January 6th, 1989, a client at the halfway house, who would not take his medication, stabbed Debi many times as she came on-duty. Hearing the screams, another worker called the police as the client ran from the house to a phone booth where he also called the police to tell them what he had done. Both calls were received about the same time. By the time help arrived, it was too late. He was arrested, taken to jail and forced to take his medication.

Before the trial, he hung himself but was revived. He was in a vegetative state. If he is still alive, he is in a nursing home. He had been in an institution. At the time of his release, he was not considered dangerous.

Documents showed he had written a letter to the judge a month or so before the slaying, saying it might be better if he went back to the institution.

We do not think about Debi’s violent death or the man who killed her. We think of how much we loved her and how she is missed.

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Debra Beebe