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Obituary: Deborah McKinley Barrett

Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, July 27, 2015

CAPE ELIZABETH – Deborah McKinley Barrett passed away peacefully on July 25, 2015, at the Gosnell House in Scarborough. Debbie was born in Portland, to William and Muriel McKinley.

Debbie graduated from Deering High School in Portland and Western New England College in Springfield, Mass. After college, Debbie returned to Maine to work for the Cumberland County Judge of Probate. It was there that she met her husband, Daniel P. Barrett, who regularly visited the probate court for his law practice. Debbie later served as the Deputy Register of Probate.

As a dedicated wife, mother, daughter, and sister, Debbie was deeply focused on her family and was an impressive housekeeper and cook. Debbie’s deepest interest and source of joy was in raising her two children, Mark and Karyn. She was eternally proud of their academic, professional, and athletic achievements and provided them both with endless love and support. In addition, Debbie was particularly close with her father, for whom she provided assistance and care during the final years of his life.

With a deep interest in and great understanding of politics and world affairs, Debbie was well-read and enjoyed engaging in political discussion. She adored the sun and water and enjoyed spending summer days at her parents’ pool or at the beach. A passionate traveler, Debbie and her family traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Caribbean. In the last few years, she enjoyed a Mediterranean and an Alaskan cruise with her father, brother, and sister. Last year, Debbie took what was to be her final trip when she traveled with Dan and Mark to visit Karyn, who was studying abroad in Rome.

Debbie was predeceased by her mother and father. Debbie leaves behind a devoted husband of 32 years, Dan, and two loving children, Mark Barrett of Philadelphia and Karyn Barrett of Cape Elizabeth. She also leaves behind a brother, William K. McKinley of Portland, and a sister, Julie Armstrong of Cape Elizabeth. In addition, she leaves nieces and nephews and many friends and family members who loved her very much.

Debbie spent the last seven months of her life in a courageous battle with ALS. She approached the disease with admirable bravery, strength, and adaptability. Because of this enduring strength and perseverance, she was able to travel to Hartford, Conn., in the final months of her life to attend and celebrate Karyn’s graduation from Trinity College. Despite being diagnosed with such a devastating disease that progressed so quickly, Debbie faced each day with gratefulness and grace, never losing her quick wit and sense of humor. She was especially thankful for the friends, neighbors, family, and other loved ones who rallied around her and provided her with support, comfort, and joy.

Her family wishes to thank the dedicated professionals at Hospice of Southern Maine for the assistance they provided to Debbie over the last few months. The family would also like to thank the staff at Gosnell House for the care, respect, and dignity they provided Debbie and the family during her final days. Finally, the family would like to express the deepest of appreciation to Ron Hoffman at Compassionate Care ALS for his caring support, and without whom it would not have been possible for Debbie to attend Karyn’s graduation or to live independently at home until her final days.

There will be visiting hours from 5-8 p.m. at Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral, 199 Woodford St., Portland, on Wednesday, July 29. A memorial service will be held at Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home on Thursday, July 30, at 11 a.m. For further information and to sign Debbie’s guestbook, please visit

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Debbie’s memory to:
Compassionate Care ALS
752 W. Falmouth Highway
Falmouth, Massachusetts 02540

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