Deborah Doolittle, beloved mother, sister, and dear friend to many died Wednesday, September 21, 2022. She was 67 years old.
Deb never failed to stand out in a crowd with a head of fiery red hair and a personality to match. She made a point to impart her fun-loving, no-bullshit disposition with everyone she met, from her cab driver to her closest friends and family.
She was born Deborah Schuss in 1954 in New York, New York, to parents Betty Jane Young and Jack Elbert Schuss. The eldest of four, her earliest memories were of riding horses on her family farm in Princeton, New Jersey, swimming in the family pool and chewing Wrigley’s gum under the bushes with her little brother Jon, while hiding out from her dad who had a list of chores ready.
At age 15, Deb’s father moved the family to Snowmass Village, Colorado (where he was elected as their first mayor). She became an avid skier, made friends with the four other students in her tiny graduating class, and fell in love with the mountains.
She attended Colorado Mountain College for two-years and departed for the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), graduating with a degree in English literature.
In 1980 she and her then boyfriend, Elisha Doolittle moved to his family’s home in Wakefield, Rhode Island. While an initial outsider, Deb found her footing, winning over friends and family with her loving spirit and hilarious and biting wit. She became a regular guest on sailing trips and enjoyed cheering on her windsurfing buddies at the Bay Campus.
Deb worked as an aide to Claudine Schneider, Brad Glum and later as Press Secretary to her father in law Duncan Doolittle, on his run for Lieutenant Governor in 1982.
She married Elisha Doolittle in 1981, later divorcing in 1987, and gave birth to her only child; a daughter, Jenna Clare Doolittle on May 21st, 1985.
Deb thrived as a mom, taking Jenna on trips out west to see her family, driving her to “play practices” and doling out advice in Jenna’s teen years to her and her friends with wise sayings like: “F–boys, you have each other!”
Complimenting her love of travel, Deb relished her work as an agent at Yankee Travel, started by her mother-in-law Clare Bailey. Deb adored traveling to the Middle East, but went everywhere from Africa to China and all over Europe. She loved good food, costume parties, spending time at Willow Dell beach club and playing catcher in the South County Women’s Softball League, which she did for over 20 years.
Deb had a big heart and volunteered teaching English to a young Chinese student who she kept in touch with for over 25 years. She delivered meals with Meals on Wheels and most recently joined the board of the Peace Dale Museum of Arts and Culture.
In addition to her daughter Jenna and son-in-law Matthew Tente, Deb is mourned by her sister Karen Sawyer, brother Jeffrey Schuss, her many nieces, nephews and cousins, and a motley crew of loving friends too numerous to mention in a notice as brief as this.
She was preceded in death by her brother Jon Schuss, father, Jack Schuss, mother, Betty Jane Schuss and mother-in-law Clare Bailey.
Deb died peacefully at South County Hospital surrounded by her family. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Deb’s honor to her favorite charity, the Sierra Club.
A Celebration of Life Party will be held in Deborah’s honor on July 8, 2023. If you’d like more information, you can contact DeborahsLifeCelebration@gmail.com.