Deborah Irene Drew Kaska – The Santa Barbara Independent

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Deborah Irene Drew Kaska (81), who died on December 27, 2022 after a fall. Debbie’s entire family was with her in her final days, celebrating life on the beach. Her children were by her side as she passed. Debbie is preceded in death by her beloved husband, William C. Kaska, and her brother, Donald E. Drew.

Debbie was born in Berwyn, Il to Harvey and Irene Drew (née Genke). She enjoyed playing the clarinet and oboe and spent her summers at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. After graduating from Glenbard High School, she attended the University of Michigan and earned her BS/MS in Biology. As a student and sister of Phi Mu Sorority, Debbie made extra money doing laundry for the chemistry department. There she met her future husband, Bill, who was a graduate student. The couple later settled in Goleta, California and raised four children.

In 1980, Debbie earned her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). In collaboration with researchers from the University of Oulu, Finland, she studied many aspects of green algae. She later served as the Academic Coordinator at the UCSB Department of Biological Sciences, leading the Introductional Biology Laboratory. Debbie has done research on a variety of topics including bird song, vision, pine roots and the genetic diversity of the Channel Islands’ ironwood trees.

After retiring from UCSB in 2002, Debbie (affectionately called “Maka” by her grandchildren) traveled to see family and friends and explored the world. She played oboe in the SB Prime Time Band and volunteered at the SB County Genealogy Society, where she was board secretary and editor of Ancestors West. She was also adept at translating Old German writings and spoke fluent German. Debbie has been involved with several organizations including serving as Vice President, Patriotic Instructor and President of Tent 22 for the Daughters of Civil War Union Veterans and Vice President of the SB Chapter of the Colonial Dames of America. She was also a member of the Mission Canyon Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her social commitment and curiosity never wavered, and her friends and neighbors benefited from her many gifts.

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Debbie is survived by her children, Serge Kaska, Kristin Woolley (Douglas), Marya Darabont (Tibor), and Kathleen Perez (James), and seven grandchildren. A memorial service in her honor will be held on Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 10:30 a.m. at San Roque Catholic Church, 325 Argonne Circle, Santa Barbara, California, followed by a 12:30 p.m. reception at Glen Annie Golf Club, 405 Glen Annie Rd. Goleta, California. Donations in her honor can be sent to the Prime Time Band, PO Box #92055, Santa Barbara, CA 93190.

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