Deborah Abbott, administrative assistant in the Admitting and Registration Services Department, died Feb. 17 at the age of 41. Abbott was known for her abundance of energy, radiant smile and upbeat nature at all times, even during her fight against breast cancer.
“Debbie was a ray of sunshine,” says Debi Dunkless, assistant to Stephen J. Gills, director of the MGH/MGPO Office of Billing Compliance. “Despite the demands on her time, she was always available, generous with her time and her enthusiasm in assisting others was genuine. Her special warmth and sincerity left you smiling after every interaction.”
Abbott worked as an assistant to Nancy Connery, director of Admitting and Registration Services, for the past nine years. During that time, Connery says, Abbott became the “go-to” person within the department and was well-respected for both her work ethic and for her ability to treat everyone like a personal friend. “Our relationship really evolved into a friendship over the years,” Connery says. “One of the most poignantly meaningful things that happened when she became sick was that I was able to shed my boss persona and just be Debbie’s friend. It allowed me to sit and hold her hand, and tell her I loved her.”
Mary Lee Gamache, administrative assistant to Deborah Adair, director of Health Information Services, recalls Abbott helping her navigate her role when she first started work at the MGH. “I only hope I continue to pay it forward by giving those who need assistance as much time and energy as Debbie gave to me,” Gamache says. “Her attitude, dedication and cheerful approach to any situation not only applied to work, but to everyday living.”
Abbott is survived by her husband, Dan, and two children, Gavin and Shannon, as well as her parents, brother and extended family. A funeral was held in Winthrop on Feb. 21, and a special memorial service in the Admitting Department was held Feb. 24. Donations in her memory can be made to the MGH Cancer Center.
Read more articles from the 03/02/12 Hotline issue.