Deborah Jean Wright Cassell, 56, also known as ‘Dixie Deb’, went home to be with her Lord on Friday, May 16, 2014.Cherishing her memory are her parents, Edward L. and Betty M. Wright of Daleville, VA.Her son, Philip E. Harless, his wife Rebekah and their child Gracie Harless of Salem, Va.Her daughter, Kelly J. N. Cassell and Sam Likens, their children Tanner and McKenna Likens of Roanoke, VA. And her sister, Kimberly W Saunders, husband John and their daughter Sarah Saunders of Troutville, VA.
Deb started her life in Danville, VA, surrounded by family. She went to Coates Elementary School and had a wonderful time on her maternal grandparents, Hazel and Fields Montgomery, farm in Brosville, VA, gaining her initial love for horses. She was the apple of Hazel’s eye, holding the special place as ‘first grandchild’. She also cherished memories of raiding the candy shelves in her paternal grandparents store, Thomas and Fannie Wright on Park Avenue in Danville, VA. While in Danville, her pesky sister Kim was born, and a lifetime of sisterly torment began.
While in elementary school, Deb was moved with her family to Lynchburg, Va. She attended Brookville High School and a typical life in the suburbs. She was into roller skating, public speaking, piano and attended Floyd Ward School of Dance.
While in the 10th grade, the family moved again to Wise County in South West Virginia. Deb was an instant success at the local high school, J.J. Kelly High. Debbie graduated the next year at the ripe age of 16 and attended the University of Virginia, Wise for her first year of college. While there, one of her roommates introduced her to blond haired, blue eyed, Robert Harless of Pennington Gap, Va. The fact that he drove a big red Firebird Trans Am may have played a small part in their courtship.
In September of 1975 at 18, Debbie and Bobby married. Their son Philip was born on May 15, 1977 and their daughter Kelly on August 8, 1978. Debbie had her own horse during those early years of marriage, she began a working relationship with C&P Telephone.
After a few years of establishing a life in Pennington Gap, she and Bob moved to Roanoke, VA, where Bob was also employed by C&P. They settled at Deb’s current residence on Welcome Valley Road. After a bit they decided to part ways. Bob stayed with the telephone company and is located in Florida, and Deb began yet another adventure as a single mom.
She inherited her first Harley, Dixie, from a chance friendship. He insisted that the bike be hers. The full story of this adventure can be found on her web site, www.dixiedeb.com.
Deb lived an adventure full life, with those two adorable blonde haired beauties in tow. She was able to fulfill a dream of owning horses again by joining with Jack Cassell of the Botetourt area and owning a home on Brunswick Forge Road. She loved her home, and built a great barn for her horses and had a wonderful pasture and riding ring. She taught her kids how handle the horse power of horses and of the two cycle variety, and that you could acquire anything with will power and determination.
Deb was also mom to various children throughout her life who will remember her fondly.
Deb was an avid camper. She learned the love of camping from her parents and many visits to Smith Mountain Lake. She continued the tradition through all of her years on this earth. There is not much that is better than a good campfire and roasting hot dogs! Her camper was always packed with everything one would need for a last minute adventure. And we mean EVERYTHING. There was never a need that she could not fulfill.
Deb, being of an independent nature, ran at least two businesses of her own. One was a modeling agency in the late 70’s. She went back to college and attended ECPI, graduated at the top of her class with a degree in website design and started her own website, www.JesusArtUSA.com, which she has operated for 13 years. She found the need for easy access to religious artwork in today’s society when she tried to find a nice picture of Jesus to give to her mother for Mother’s Day. She did find one, but not without great effort. She decided at that point in time that it was her calling to provide easy access to various portraits of our Lord and Savior online. She has developed a wonderful collection of art that is available to the public. The Good Lord provided her enough to meet her needs, which was enough for Deb. Her daughter Kelly, who has helped her with Jesus Art over the years, plans to keep this ministry of hers functional going forward.
Deb has three grandchildren, Tanner, 16, McKenna, 7 and Gracie, 1.
Deb has always been a fighter, and fought hard for her health. As her end drew near, she never gave up hope of finding a cure to her issues.
Debbie’s family thanks the Springtree Health and Rehabilitation Center family for all their compassion and assistance during what is easily one of the most difficult situations required of life. The employees there are truly passionate for their calling, one that can only be ordained by God, and we thank God daily for each and every one of them. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Springtree in Debbie’s memory.
Family will receive friends at 1:00 pm on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at Family Choice Funerals and Cremations. A Celebration of Life Service will begin at 2:00 pm and Interment at Daleville Cemetery will follow the service.Send FlowersPlant a Tree