Debra H. Brinley-Koempel, 64, died peacefully at her home in Chelan, Washington on October 1, 2019 after an eleven year battle with ovarian cancer. Deb is survived by her husband of 39 years, Herman Koempel, their daughter Lindsay, her sister Diana Edmiston (Richard) and their children Kelly and James of Reno, Nevada, brothers Dana Brinley (Janis) and their son Robert of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and Dan Brinley of Santa Rosa, California.
She was the daughter of Edward and Beverly (Gordan) Brinley, natives of Pasadena and Altadena, California. Deb’s father worked as a mining Geologist for Anaconda Copper Mining Company and Anaconda Exploration, employment that took the family to many different places that became home. Deb was born on October 3, 1954, in Chile and later lived much of her later childhood in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. From there the family moved to Reno, Nevada, where Deb graduated from high school in 1972.
After graduation Deb was accepted at the University of Arizona in Tucson where she earned a BA in Sociology and Psychology. While at Arizona she was president of her sorority, Phi Mu, and made life-long friendships that she cherished. She greatly enjoyed attending a sorority reunion in Tucson in October of 2017. After graduation in 1976 Deb accepted a position as graduate counselor for Phi Mu, a job that took her to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City where she advised the Phi Mu chapter while earning a Masters degree in Social Work. It was there that she met her husband, Herman, who had recently been transferred to Salt Lake by his employer. In 1980 they were married near Sacramento, California, where Deb was working with the county crisis management team. Immediately after the wedding, Herman’s job took them to Portland, Oregon, where Deb became director of a youth services center. They eventually made their way to Seattle, then Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1989, where they lived for 30 years.
While there, Deb was one of four women who founded a school for homeless children called First Place. Their efforts in founding the school received national attention, appearing in Parade Magazine. Subsequently, Deb became an independent Adoption Social Worker and then worked with families and children for the Bainbridge Island school district. She retired in 2008. Her passion in life was the well-being of children and families. She had an endless capacity to perceive the needs of others and to seek meaningful ways to help. She was devoted to social justice and the accessibility of quality mental healthcare. She loved nature and enjoyed it through biking, skiing, and other winter sports.
A memorial in honor of Deb’s life will be held at the Dayaalu Yoga Center, Bainbridge Island, on November 16th at 12 p.m. A family memorial was held at an earlier date. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Planned Parenthood.