Cover photo for Deborah Pinkerton's Obituary
Deborah Pinkerton Profile Photo
1952 Deborah 2016

Deborah Pinkerton

December 17, 1952 — October 23, 2016

Deborah N. Pinkerton (Hewitt Dec. 17, 1952 a�" Oct. 23, 2016 Deb passed away late in the lovely autumn afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 23, on her beloved mother's birthday. She fought a determined and valiant battle of a recurrence of breast cancer. With her at the last moment were her husband, Bret Hewitt; sister-in-law, Lauren Hewitt; daughter, Clare Hewitt; and her loyal Russian wolfhound, Raisa.

In addition to being a wife and mother, Deb defined herself first and foremost as a teacher a�" while at UC Davis and upon graduation, as the education director in the UC Davis Arboretum in the late 1970s and early 1980s and more recently running the children's theater outreach and education program for the Washington, D.C.-based Helen Hayes Awards organization. In between those stints she taught junior high school science and social studies in several parochial schools in Manhattan and greater Washington, D.C.

Upon entering Deb's classrooms, one's first take was utter cacophony, with jazz or classical music blaring, children's desks huddled together helter-skelter and an energy level akin to a beehive. However, upon further observation, one could see genuine learning taking place within a cooperative, sharing atmosphere.

She was also a park ranger in a Sacramento park district, traveling in ranger hat and uniform from school to school with her animal skins and live animals in tow. She was also the leader of the Davis-based U.S. Forest Service summer fire crew in the early 1980s. Deb's enthusiasm and love for her students, individually and collectively, was undeniable and it brought her great joy. Even though she was known as a strict teacher, her students adored her and stayed in contact for years after they left her classroom. When Deb had successfully coached one of her students into a top high school, she bounded through the back door of her district or Arlington home, literally "walking on air."

Deb was born in Wenatchee, Wash., and raised in Costa Mesa, graduating from Costa Mesa High School. She grew up in a milieu of Beach Boys, Beatles, Big Band and jazz music. After receiving her AA degree from Orange Coast Community College in 1974 she transferred to UC Davis, from which she received a BS in environmental planning and management in 1977. She and Bret were married in the Arboretum's Oak Grove on June 29, 1985, exiting the ceremony via a gauntlet of raised softball bats by members of his softball team.

The couple traveled across country later that summer to establish residence in Manhattan's Upper West Side and later in Brooklyn. The couple then spent 26 years between Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., before resettling to retire and raise their daughter, Clare, who joined the family in 2013. Unfortunately, during nearly all of the past two years while in Davis, Deb was fighting the cancer that had come back after the original successful treatment five years earlier. Ever the teacher, Deb doted on Clare, loving every minute with her most cherished student from homework to gardening and cooking and shopping and grooming the dog.

Deb enjoyed attending live theater in San Francisco, New York and Washington and major league baseball, especially the Giants, but also including the Mets, Orioles and Nationals. She enthusiastically supported Bret during his 25 years of volunteer activities for UC Davis and served herself on the GATEways Advisory Council for the UCD Arboretum and Public Garden. While in Washington, she was elected in a competitive race to an Area Neighborhood Council seat in a diverse neighborhood. Upon leaving both their Washington and Virginia homes, she was feted by her neighbors.

She enjoyed travel to Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, China, Vietnam, Canada and Mexico a�" as well as traveling across this country twice. She relished cross country skiing, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada and the Adirondack and Appalachian Mountains. Her gardens were evidence of her natural "green thumb" and sense of design. She was likewise an elegant cook, but no baker.

She took great pride in designing the menu and dishes when she and Bret would host opening-night receptions for Washington's Studio Theatre; never would she permit those nights to be catered. She was an avid reader, loved a good cold microbrew and a nice glass of wine paired with one of her meals. She loved walking her wolfhounds (and talking) in each neighborhood in which she lived.

Deb was preceded in death by her mother, Joy Shinkoskey Pinkerton; her father, Ralph M. Pinkerton; her daughter, Amelia; and her mother- and father-in law, Emily M. and Dr. Thomas B. Hewitt a�" as well as numerous, well-loved four-legged family members. She is survived by her husband of 31-plus years and her daughter, her sister and husband, Pamela and Alex McGeary (Warner Springs); brother and wife, Scott and Carol Pinkerton (Big Bear); and sister and husband, Jane and Jim Carlyle (Costa Mesa). She is further survived by her in-laws, Garth and Sherri Vella Hewitt (Petaluma), Lauren Hewitt and her partner, Dolores McElroy (Oakland) and Bret's aunt, Mary Lee Kieffer (Alameda).

Services are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 19, at 3 p.m. in the Episcopal Church of St. Martin, 640 Hawthorn Lane in Davis, with a reception to follow at the Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St in Davis. Children are welcome at both events.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to the "Pinkerton Prize" in the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, a 20-year old working endowment providing educational support to budding undergraduate leaders involved in the Arboretum's many offerings. Gifts may be made by check and sent to the UC Davis Foundation (with the name of the fund on the memo line), One Shields Ave, UC Davis 95616 or via this link:

Previous Events

Celebration of Life
Saturday, November 19, 2016
3:00 PM
St. Martins Episcopal Church

640 Hawthorn Lane
Davis, CA 95616

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