Photography

Deborah Simons Reeves

July 21, 2021

Obituary

Deborah Anne Simons-Reeves, 84, passed away July 21, 2021 in Cincinnati, OH. She was born in Grand Rapids, MI, January 28, 1937, first child of Mary E. (Armstrong) Simons and John L. Simons II. After graduating from Allegan High School in 1954, Debbie studied interior design at The Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL. She married Richard G. Hoffman of Saugatuck, MI in 1955 and had two children, adopting a third; Thomas M. Hoffman (Allyson) of Arlington, VT; Anneliese H. Kilburn of San Francisco, CA; and Katherine Hoffman of Los Angeles, CA. Debbie also leaves her adored grand-daughter, Mackenzie Z. Hoffman of Los Angeles, CA; her sister Mary Lynn Simons (Daniel T. Linger) of Santa Cruz, CA; and her brother John L. Simons (Frear) of Colorado Springs, CO. Her devoted spiritual and life partner, William K. Buhrmaster of Cincinnati survives.
Debbie graduated with honors from Murray State University in 1978 with a BA in Criminal Justice and Social Work. She then briefly attended law school at NKU before leaving to begin her social work career in earnest; this included advocating for incarcerated people in the Kentucky penal system. In the 1980s, Debbie and her now-deceased husband, Evan Reeves, began buying old houses in the Newport and Cincinnati area, refurbishing them to rent. Her plan was to supplement their income by creating well-maintained, attractive housing for low income people. Debbie had a natural bent for carpentry, decorating, and mechanics. In the 1970’s she broke ground by attending Mercury Motor School in Indiana so that she could build an outboard motor for the hydroplane she had made. Debbie was the first woman in the United States to become a licensed riverboat pilot. She and Richard Hoffman piloted their 64-foot side-wheel riverboat from Saugatuck on Lake Michigan, through the inland waterways to Kentucky Lake where they operated for tourists.
Debbie was active in the Christian Science Church from the age of 18 when she married her first husband Richard and became a member of the Saugatuck congregation. She served as a Reader and a Practitioner (spiritual healer) for nearly 50 years. She worked in the Christian Science Reading Room in downtown Cincinnati and always taught Sunday School -- actively engaging children in the Bible, using her artistic talents to illustrate, inspire, and discuss. She shared her lifelong passion for the outdoors: organizing camping trips with local children, and teaching them to swim. Debbie always had as much fun as the kids!
Debbie had a mission to help people and animals, and was a history buff, with a special interest in the Civil War and General Grant. She was a joyful person with a magnetic personality, and will be greatly missed. A lovely service was held in her memory, Sunday, July 25th, at the First Church of Christ Scientist, Cincinnati. Many spoke with love and appreciation. Contributions remembering Debbie may be made to your local animal shelter or prison reform nonprofit.

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