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Dr. Deborah Michelle Garfield

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Bristol, Virginia

Dr. Deborah Michelle Garfield, Ph.D., passed away Tuesday, October 3, 2023, at her home in Bristol, Virginia.

She was born March 31, 1952, in Staten Island, New York to the late Claude and Doris Garfield. In 1959, Deb moved with her family to Norfolk, Virginia. She attended Maury High School, and in addition to being academically gifted, she was also a member of the school’s cheerleading squad. Deb would graduate from Maury High in 1970 at the top of her class in addition to other honors. She then earned her bachelor’s degree from Agnes Scott College and her master’s and doctorate degrees in English from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Garfield then began her distinguished career in academia, teaching at various colleges and universities, including the California Institute of Technology, the University of California at Los Angelos, Virginia Intermont, and Emory & Henry College. Throughout her career, Dr. Garfield authored numerous publications in various literary journals and presented at conferences across the country. Deb was an eloquent communicator, and her romance with Bruce started after several months of exchanging emails. Deb loved spending time in the great outdoors, reading, and sharing her love of literature with others. Deb was always considered a gentle soul and will be remembered for her love of all creatures great and small.

Deb was also a well-known foodie who enjoyed new culinary delights paired with the perfect wines. She kept up with the top restaurants list in the U.S. and had been known to indulge in fabulous dining over the years. It was a passion she shared with Bruce. Deb and Bruce also shared a love of artwork, having spent many trips searching for and acquiring the perfect piece of artwork or the ideal rug.

She is survived by her husband, Bruce Gordon; two brothers, David Garfield and Michael (Karen) Garfield; uncles, Robert Davis and Dr. James Froeschle; aunt, Judy (Mike) Hooper; cousins, Nina, Amy, and Jamie Froeschle, Allyson Hooper Burke, Carter Hooper, Beth Davis, and Ford Davis; nieces, Megan (Michael) Mason, and Mallory Garfield; great-nephew, James Mason. Deb is also survived by many friends and dear colleagues.

Special thanks to Sandra Carey for her love, care, and kindness.

A memorial gathering will be held Saturday, October 21, 2023, from 2:00 P.M. until 4:30 P.M. at the Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon, Virginia. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the ASPCA in Deborah Garfield’s name or to any organization that seeks to aid abused and abandoned animals.

Frost Funeral Home and Cremation Services is honored to serve the family of Dr. Deborah Garfield.


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