Deborah “Debby” Athearn


Deborah “Debby” Heath Lobb Athearn, 76, of West Tisbury, died peacefully surrounded by her family on February 11, 2022. 

Born June 12, 1945, in Philadelphia, PA, Debby was raised just outside of Philly in Havertown. She graduated from Haverford Senior High School in 1963 and then studied photography at the Benjamin Franklin Institute in Boston. After college, she spent a few years driving all over the U.S. in her ‘66 Mustang convertible, making friends wherever she went. She settled on the Vineyard in the early 1970s, where she met her husband, George “Harry” Athearn and raised their son, Brian. 

 Debby loved fishing, was a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Fishing Club, fished the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, and helped coordinate the kids’ trout tournaments for years. She also loved to travel with Harry, taking trips to the Caribbean and Hawaii, and driving cross country multiple times in their various Astro vans. She was as creative in practical pursuits as she was in her artistic endeavors, her curious and determined nature serving her well in everything from rebuilding the pool pump to learning to play the ukulele and performing around the Island with her “Uke Group” friends. 

Debby held many jobs over the years but found her calling as a paperhanger, after teaching herself how to hang wallpaper while renovating their house on Lambert’s Cove. She ran her own business on the Island for many years, retiring shortly after the birth of her first grandchild, to devote the majority of her time to being “Nini” to him and eventually his younger brother. She stocked her pantry with their favorite foods, and never subscribed to those silly rules their parents had about snacks before dinner or bedtimes or screen time or the appropriate age at which one should own his own golf cart. 

Debby had an uncanny ability to make everyone feel welcome: friends of friends, extended family, summer visitors, and countless hummingbirds all benefited from her hospitality. She will be remembered for her easy smile and generosity, for knowing a little bit about everything, and let you know if she thought there was a better way to do whatever you happened to be doing at the time. And, of course, for those amazing baked beans. 

Debby is survived by her husband, George “Harry” Athearn; son, Brian Athearn (Kate); brother, Norman Heath Lobb III (Kathy); grandsons: Hunter Athearn, and Emmett Athearn; nieces Dee Quesnel (Doug) and Amanda Clary (Roger); grandniece Skylar Quesnel; cousins: Paul “P.D.” Deigendesch, Lucille Schuck (Ken), Laura Schuck, and Jamie Schuck, and numerous friends who felt like family. 

She was predeceased by her parents: Norman Heath Lobb, Jr. and Edith Deigendesch Lobb; and Uncle Paul Deigendesch and Aunt Lucille Deigendesch.

A graveside service will be held at the Lambert’s Cove Cemetery on Sunday, February 20, at 3 pm. You can honor Debby’s memory by making a donation to Hospice Care VNA of Cape Cod, who cared for her and her family in her final days.


  1. Brian , My deepest and most heartfelt condolences are with you and your family. I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

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