Several hundred friends and family members gathered at the Meadow at Ward Pound Reservation on a gray Wednesday morning for a "Celebration of Life" ceremony for Deborah Healy-Seidlitz, whom her husband, Richard Seidlitz, called "a beacon in the storm always there to make things better."
Healy-Seidlitz died Friday night after being struck by a car. She was a licensed massage therapist for two decades, had recently earned her master's degree at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service and was remembered by her husband for helping people "who often had no voice or champion."
"As sad as I am for our loss, I am sadder still for all those people who will never have the chance to be touched by Deb," said Seidlitz.
Her family remembered her giving spirit and all of the thoughtful things she did for them, unasked. Her husband recalled her skills as a chef and said she often cooked special meals for their family and picked up thoughtful gifts, like needed reading glasses or new gloves.
Her son, Andrew, a middle school student at John Jay Middle School, said he loved how she greeted him every day after school and how she tucked him in at night. He also said she set a great example by getting straight A's in college.
Her daughter, Hannah, a tenth-grader at John Jay High School, said "there was no arrangement of words that could convey" what her mother meant to her, and instead sang Coldplay's "Fix You," in tribute to her mother's memory.
Family members spoke of the joy Deborah found in being outdoors—where she spent hours gardening and walking her beloved dog, Remy—and of her strong and kind spirit.
"Deborah's legacy is to make all of us promise to try and be a little better in any way that we can," said her mother-in-law, Doris Seidlitz.
Their stories included moments both humorous—Doris recalled the first time she tried to offer her daughter-in-law cooking advice—and touching, such as when her sister, Karen Healy, thanked Deborah for nurturing her while they were growing up.
Healy-Seidlitz's brother-in-law, David Alpern, thanked all of the guests at the ceremony, saying that even in the face of a tragic event, receiving their support had been "the most life-affirming thing I can think of."
For more on Deborah Healy-Seidlitz's life, click here to read her obituary. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Deborah’s memory to My Sister’s Place, 1 Water Street, 3rd floor, White Plains, N.Y. 10601, attention: Lauren Khan. Donations can also be made online at www.mysistersplaceny.org.