In Memory

Deborah Graham (Bernstein)

Sarah Bernstee

My mama, Deborah Graham, passed away this morning after 2 1/2 years of struggling with Frontotemporal Dementia. I'll write more at some point, I'm sure, but anyone who knows me knows that my brain has to work through all the dissociation before I get to feel anything fully.

For those of you who knew my mama, I'd love if you would send me memories of her. I'm wearing one of her sweaters, looking through old photographs, + trying to weave everything I can remember together. My phone is working again but I don't have any contacts - send me a note that way w/ your name attached or via fb or at

My mom's funeral will be at Temple Beth Israel in Skokie, Illinois on Monday, November 9 at 1pm. Shiva will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 6-9pm at my Aunt + Uncle's House in Evanston, IL - contact me for details. I'll probably have something at my home Thursday night also.

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11/13/15 12:07 PM #4    

Howard Levin


I am truly sorry to hear of Debby's passing.She was in my combined studies class .She was super smart,very opinionated and passionate.She was the first feminist I met in high school. Glen Deitell and I used to bait her, tease , and debate her. She was super cool. Always had a smile,never backed down.she will be missed.



11/14/15 07:20 AM #5    

Donna Branstrom (Heeter)

I am very sorry for your family's loss. 

My memory of Debbie goes even further back. We were friends in 6th grade at 
Nichols. We became friends because we didn't know anyone else at Nichols. I 
remember going to her beautiful house a few times & that her mother was 
very ill. I was too embarrassed of our brick bungalow to invite her 
there. I remember her as a smart young girl with beautiful long curly dark
hair. We played the games that 6th graders play. We decided we should
have nicknames incorporating our initials. Hers was Daggy. I was transferred 
to Chute for 7th grade & that's when we lost touch.

11/14/15 04:03 PM #6    

James Currie

Hello Sarah,

I am so sorry and saddened to hear of your mom's passing.  I remember her well - very vivacious, engaging, fearless, smart, fun.  She had a GREAT smile.  We were not good friends, but class-mates and friendly familiars since 6th grade through high school.

I rember clearly her with a girls softball team from jr. high. Not an athlete, but as game as anyone out there - and having as much fun and as much a part of the group as anyone.

It is hard and sad to think of her gone now.  I am sure this is more clear to you than anyone.  It is good to know she no longer struggles.

My deepest sympathies,

- Jim Currie



11/14/15 11:26 PM #7    

Erica (Riki) Lippitz

Dear Sarah,

Your mom was full of life, intelligence and talent.  What I recall best is not what we did, but how much I admired her throughout high school.  We studied together in Combined Studies and other classes, and shared social time in Beth Emet's youth group.   Her long, beautiful hair was a marvel.  

She was one of the people for whom I looked at the reunion... I am so sad to realize that illness had already struck her.  

But now you can reclaim the memories you have of her when she was strong, smart, confident and joyous.  That was her essence, and that essence was surely her first gift to you.  And that is the way she will always live in my memory.

Riki Lippitz


11/15/15 01:45 PM #8    

George Aronson (Aronson)

I am sad to learn of your Mom's passing.  I remember her fondly from ETHS, hanging out in the CS lounge, chatting about what might be in the Evanstonian, debating what we were hearing on the news. I hope that our words and memories provide some amount of comfort.

11/16/15 07:48 AM #9    

Elizabeth Robinson (Robinson)

Dear sarah  thanks for reaching out to us eths friends of your mom. I hope our fond memories of her can be of comfort to you. I sure do remember Debbie she stood out in our huge class as a super smart and very involved classmate. I looked up to her and admired her intelligence . She was more into humanities and me just chemistry and science . I am sure she was proud to have a daughter as sensitive and loving as you are. No matter what we all have done or will do in our lives it is are long term friendships and ate children that mean the most.  Thank you for helping us remember your mom.   Fondly, Betsy Robinson







11/17/15 08:02 AM #10    

Carol Lynn White (White)

Hi Sarah,

I was  truly saddened by the news of your Mom's passing. Debbie and I go back to our fun days at Nichols Jr High School. Your Mom was so outgoing and so full of life and to know her last days were anything but what she was like over the years is really sad. Debbie will be missed and I hope that our notes to you will help you to celebrate her life. The Class of '74 will hold you and your family in our prayers as you work through your grief. 

Lynn White


11/17/15 10:41 AM #11    

Matthew Robinson

Sorry to hear about your mom. I remember her like Jim Currie from Nichols JHS but I think I remember her at Lincoln too. I remember her as smart and spunky. She would be the one you would vote for class president because she would be fair and fight for the underdog. I did only 9th grade at ETHS. She will be missed for all that she has meant for many.

11/17/15 11:34 AM #12    

J. J. Sedelmaier

Oh man. . . I'm so sorry to hear of Debbie's passing. We had started to correspond again through Facebook several years ago. She was one of the ETHS pals you just never forget and I was SO happy to have had the chance to reconnect ! Please extend my condolenses to your family and know that she was remembered, appreciated and loved by those she crossed paths with years ago. . .

11/17/15 08:39 PM #13    

Louise Brueggemann

Dear Sarah,

I too am very sorry to hear about your mother's passing. I remember Debby as very outgoing, friendly, and interesting to talk to about things that mattered. Debby, Claire Grossman & I all had older sisters who were friends at ETHS, which made me feel like I had built-in friends when I got there. I've always loved the yearbook picture of Debby and Claire at graduation.

Thanks for reaching out to your mother's friends and giving us a chance to reflect on the part she played in our lives. I hope that your family's memories will sustain you.

Louise Brueggemann

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