Deborah L. Newman-Sparby, aka “Teacher Debbi” or “Miss Debbi”, died peacefully on August 29th, 2021 surrounded by her family. She fought a valiant and courageous 4-year battle of Stage IV Lung cancer with such strength, grace and positivity. Debbi was a loving mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend, and cherished grandma “Nani” to her beloved 11 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. She was compassionate, creative, strong, fiercely independent, and selfless with her time to help anyone in need. She had a tenacity for learning new things and became quite the handy-woman, being able to fix and remodel just about anything around the house and set a great example to her children to be self-sufficient as well. She touched the lives of everyone she came into contact with; she never met a stranger and loved to visit with everyone. She was a beacon of light, and many were drawn to that light. So many looked up to her. We will all forever remember her powerful example, remembering her strength and courage with her long and difficult battle with cancer, her wit and beautiful smile, and the countless children whose lives she touched as she taught over the years as a teacher. She will be deeply missed by all those who loved her, but we know she will live on in our hearts and minds forever, and she will continue to do what she has always done, which is look over us and guide us.
Debbi was born on August 10, 1950, in Cheyenne, WY to Esther White-Jensen and Merlin White. Debbi attended schools in Cheyenne and Laramie, graduating from Central High in 1968 and then the University of Wyoming with a BA in Elementary Education in 1972. That summer she married Craig Newman, and 11 years later they had three children, Paige Murdock of Billings, MT, Rachel Newman of Casper, WY, and Cole Newman of Oklahoma City, OK.
Debbi taught elementary school in McFadden and Laramie, WY for her first three years as Craig attended Law School. She and Craig then moved to Cheyenne where she worked in a law firm. They later moved to Anchorage, AK for two and a half years where they both worked in legal positions. In 1980 they moved to Casper where Debbi worked for an independent land man for two years and then started their beautiful family. She was fortunate enough to be able to stay home for ten years to raise her three children. Debbi was always drawn to young children and again began teaching in 1992. Her passion to see each child succeed was driven by countless hours of preparation and hard work to ensure her classroom was a fun environment to learn and play. She taught preschool at First Christian Church, and then three years later began working at The Child Development Center where she worked in the ladybug room teaching 3-year-old special needs children until she retired in 2014. During this time, she also received her endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education, which was an accomplishment she was very proud of.
In 2001 Debbi met her love and “Rock Star”, Tom Sparby, while dancing with her 83-year-old father, Merlin White, at The Beacon. They dated until they married in 2007. Together they shared a love of work and remodeling, whether it was landscaping their backyard, building their lovely sun porch and deck, working inside, or remodeling two rental properties, they always worked hard together and made a one-of-a-kind team. Tom is, and has always been, a fiercely loyal and loving companion. She and Tom shared countless laughs and stories. One of their treasured routines was sharing time together every morning on the sunporch, drinking coffee and visiting. Tom has taken the best care of her and has always been by her side. He was supportive of all of her endeavors and ideas, including her flowers and vegetable garden. Debbi’s love for gardening was so apparent and could be seen with her many colorful and beautiful flowers and her abundant vegetable garden.
Debbi also enjoyed being active in many organizations. She was a member of Delta Delta Delta at The University of Wyoming, a member of PEO, a member of the Casper Ladies’ Adventure Group, as well as a member of Highland Park Community Church and Bible Study Group. Debbi always enjoyed being social and being part of these various groups where she made many lifelong friends and deep connections along the way.
Debbi is survived by her husband, Tom Sparby, daughters, Rachel Newman, Paige (Keith) Murdock, son, Cole (Katy) Newman, seven grandsons: Jackson, Traegan, Sawyer, Kyler, Truman, Weston, and Gunner, step-children, Chris Sparby, David (Tina) Sparby, Beth Sparby, and five additional grandchildren: Zack, Ryan, Ella, Corbin, and Jacob, her brothers, Gaylan (Nancy) White and Jerry (Ann) White, her step-dad, Bill Jensen, and several nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, Debbi requested that donations be made to any of the following: Child Development Center, Central Wyoming Hospice, Meals on Wheels, or The Food for Thought program.
To share a memory of Debbi please click the "Share Memories" button above.