Monson-Deborah L. (Ingalls) Wheeler, passed away after a brief hospitalization Friday, October 28, 2022 with loving family by her side. She was 67 years old. Debby was born in Greenfield, MA to the late Nancy (Harlow) and William H. Ingalls, Sr. She was a graduate of Longmeadow High School and attained an Associate of Arts, English from Holyoke Community College and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst). Over the years she worked for Rourke-Eno Paper Co., James L. Coughlin, Inc. of E. Longmeadow, and American International College in Springfield. Debby was a member of the First Church of Monson, Congregational; Order of the Eastern Star, Ludlow; and a Daughter of the Nile. She was a member of the Monson Arts Council, a director and lifelong member of the Sgt. William Harlow Family Association in Plymouth, Massachusetts and a Mayflower descendant of the Hopkins, Allerton and Warren families.
Debby enjoyed school and made many friends. Her summers were spent with her Mom and Dad, Sister and Brother, at the home her parents built on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, Alton Bay, NH; adjacent to an Aunt & Uncle, Cousins and Grandparents on Young’s Cove. She sought to be, and usually was, “the first to see the lake” as the family station wagon drove over the last hill into Alton Bay. Her Dad taught her to swim in The Lake. She loved driving Dad’s boat and looking at Mount Major and the surrounding lake and scenery. One year, the family visited “The Lake” in winter and Debby learned to snowmobile, her joy floating across the frozen lake. On the summer her sister, Susan, obtained her driver’s license, Debby exclaimed “hot damn, we’ve got wheels” and we drove to Weirs Beach and played “Ski-Ball”.
Debby’s mother’s parents in life were Irving Wendell and Edith Lavinia (Ames) Harlow of Lynn, MA. It was her grandfather and grandmother who brought her to the annual Harlow Family Association meetings with the verified attachment to the Sgt. William Harlow House in Plymouth, MA, built from timbers of the Plymouth Fort in 1677, which gave her a genuine love for history and family. Visiting her grandparents in the summer and swimming in the ocean when “the Gulf Stream is in, dear” was a rare treasure. So was “Christmas at Grammy and Grandpa’s house.”
On her father’s side, she was a direct descendant of a first settler of Lynn, Edmund Ingalls through his son Robert (a source of fun in family genealogy).
As a member of the First Church of Monson, Congregational, Debby sang in the choir and had a beautiful voice. We occasionally enjoyed the Christmas services at church, and when Debby was younger and the church had a living creche, Debby enjoyed the role of Mary nurturing the infant Jesus.
Debby made friends everywhere she went. She just had that gathering way and infectious smile which made everyone want to be her friend, including her sister, who can still feel her hugs.
Debby met her future husband Joel Wheeler in the “singles column” of the newspaper. It was love at first sight and their joy that was miraculous shone through the church on September 29, 1990, their Wedding Day, a beautiful, early fall day in Monson. Their first home was in Springfield until they moved into Monson in 2007. They became mainstays of local craft fairs especially with the Monson Art’s Council on Thanksgiving Weekend as Debby joined Joel in his hobby as Uncle Joel’s Toy Shop. Debby loved Christmas and dressing in red at the “Big MAC”. Showing the wood toys made by her husband was a real delight, and sometimes youngsters thought that Debby and Joel had to be Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, accompanied by Debby’s father who was a supporting elf. Joel did, after all, have a significant beard that youngsters loved to pull to prove it was real. Their Wedding Favors were little wooden cars that proudly proclaimed “Just Married.”
In later years, Debby became the full-time caregiver of her husband, Joel, a Viet Nam Veteran who had developed cognitive issues. Now she will be a saint as she continues to watch over him.
Debby leaves her beloved husband of 32 years Joel E. Wheeler; a much-loved older sister, Susan G. (Ingalls) Moritz and her husband George of Virginia Beach, Virginia; her best friend, Lisa Ricci and her husband Paul of Springfield as well as well as Debby’s extended family and friends. Debbie was predeceased by her younger brother, William H. Ingalls, Jr. in 2021.
Joel and Susan will forever remember her infectious smile (you just couldn’t stay sad around her) and that she was the most loving and giving woman that God created.
A graveside service will be held Friday November 4, 2022 at 2pm at Hillcrest Cemetery on Wilbraham Road in Monson for the burial of Deborah and William.
A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life for Deborah will be held Saturday, December 3, 2022 at 11a.m. in the First Church of Monson, Congregational 5 High St. Monson MA 01057.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, PO Box 3773, Plymouth, MA; or the First Church of Monson, Congregational, Organ Fund 5 High St. Monson, MA 01057.
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