Deborah A. Cefalu

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Visitation: Saturday, August 20, 2022 from 2:30 until 4pm at Heritage Funeral Homes (3801 S. Howell Ave, Milwaukee)

Celebration of Life: Saturday, August 20, 2022 at 4pm at Heritage Funeral Homes


Deborah Ann Cefalu (nee Hardie) passed away peacefully and surrounded by family on Thursday, August 11, 2022 at the age of 74 years.

Preceded in death by her husband Peter. Loving mother of Amanda (Peter) Cefalu and Marc Cefalu. Proud grandmother of Isabella and Salvatore. Sister to Sharon Hardie, James Hardie and Robert Hardie. Also survived by other relatives and friends.

Debbie was born on October 20, 1947 in Milwaukee Wisconsin to her parents Neil and Betty Hardie. Human being, wife, mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, sister, friend, teacher, counselor, colleague, student advocate. Debbie enjoyed growing up in West Allis with many close friends. Her grandmother, Rose Hardie, was particularly special to her during her childhood. Debbie was an educator for her entire career, beginning as an English teacher and eventually spending time as a middle school and elementary school counselor. She loved helping children, advocating for justice, and improving the lives of others.

 A visitation for Deb and Pete, who passed on during the pandemic, will be held on Saturday, August 20, 2022 from 2:30 until the celebration of life and time of sharing at 4pm at Heritage Funeral Home (3801 S. Howell Avenue, Milwaukee, WI).

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in her honor can be made to Saint Benedict the Moore Parish in Milwaukee or Project Concern of Cudahy.


Please click here to view the obituary for Pete Cefalu


  1. Lidia Amonson August 13, 2022 at 8:36 am - Reply

    Debbie was a kind, generous, and loving friend. I learned a lot from her about fairness and justice when we shared living quarters early in our teaching days.
    I know how much Deb loved her family, especially her grandchildren. Her spirit will continue to live in them.
    My sincere condolences to all Deb’s loved ones.

  2. Donna Mittelstaedt August 13, 2022 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Whenever I see fairies or rainbows, I will think of Deb. She impressed me with her strength.
    She had a certain class about her yet down to earth. She spoke of her family often. I could tell she was proud of them. As neighbors, Deb met my grandchildren and was so kind to them. Even giving them some well taken care of toys and Pikachu cards that her little ones had outgrown. They were so excited. Her sharing made us all feel good!
    I was amazed by her resilience. Taking herself to the many treatments and yet shopping and caring for herself. She was strong and independent. When I was down she somehow gave me a bit of her strength.
    She was where she wanted to be and I will miss her as I miss Pete.

  3. Jan (Standiford) Carlson August 14, 2022 at 10:22 am - Reply

    Debbie and Pete and I went to high school together. I have many lovely memories of Debbie both while at Central and afterwards. She was always a caring, giving individual…and really fun! Got to know Pete better after they married…what a great guy! Spent time at their home in West Allis when all of our children were little ones. Unfortunately thru time and distance we didn’t see each other as often in later years. Shared Christmas cards and always said “let’s get together”, which we were always too busy to do. My deepest sympathy in the loss of two wonderful people. Memories keep them with us always.

  4. Elaine Gehring August 14, 2022 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Deb at Richards Elementary School, and I fondly remember her kind, caring manner with colleagues as well as her tireless efforts to help children. When I hear the phrase “one of a kind”. I always think of Deb and picture her holding up a pinkie finger as she spoke those words to children. She valued every individual as “one of a kind” We were blessed to know and work with her.

  5. ANDREA BIDEN August 14, 2022 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Debbie, you raised a great kid!
    Amanda, I am so sorry. Faced with the enormity of the loss of your Mum, words seem inadequate. I can’t imagine what this must feel like. If there is anything we can do to help at this difficult time please let me know. Thinking of you and your family. In Sympathy, Andrea & Rudi

  6. Lisa Roberts August 15, 2022 at 10:48 am - Reply

    I had the honor of working with Deb at Richards Elementary. I will always remember her gentle demeanor, kindness and her innate ability to make everyone feel welcome. Deb was not only a counselor of students, but staff as well. After the devastating passing of my father, Deb sought me out to see how I was doing, offering me her wisdom and strength. Deb has left an indelible mark on this world, and all who knew her are better for it.

  7. Kathy Sawyer Turkal August 15, 2022 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    I also had the honor of working with Deb, however, at Cumberland. She will live on through what she gave to others, both staff and her beloved students. I can attest to the mark she made on several of those kids who needed her and through the friendship she offered me. I was new to the school and she made me feel like it was important that I was there. That is a rare trait. I lost touch with Deb over the years, but never forgot her friendship and love, to me and others. She was a light in this world.

  8. Kathy (Frohna) Kildow August 15, 2022 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    I have known Debbie since I was 5 years old almost 70 years now. So I have a lifetime of memories of her that are too numerous to share here. What I will say is that her friendship has meant everything to me over these years. Growing up all the kids at school wanted to be her friend because she was smart, a natural athlete,(and that was very important on the playground) and she was funny. I was the lucky one she called her Best Friend though. After I got married and moved away from Milwaukee we still kept in touch through letters and cards and “catch up” visits whenever I was back visiting my parents. On those visits she loved driving me around the city showing me all the changes that had occurred since I’d been home last. But even with the passage of time,the addition of having our own families, and having very different life experiences our friendship remained strong. For that I am forever grateful.
    I am also grateful for the invention of texting because I believe in the last few years it allowed Deb to share her struggles with the progression of her cancer in a way that she otherwise would not have done. She had so much empathy and compassion for others and yet she didn’t seem to be able to accept it for herself. When we texted each other all the fairy,rainbow,flower and heart emojis I think made it easier for her to accept rather than words..In 2018 my son Chris began battling bladder cancer and I asked Deb if she would reach out to him in support. of course she did and they became “cancer buddies”sharing many texts and some phone calls.After he passed away in March of 2019 she said”It should have been me.”And though I know she meant it the fierce love she had for her family kept her fighting her own battle with that awful cancer for anther 3 years. That shows what remarkable strength and courage she had.

    Deb… you were the best! I will miss you forever!
    (Also I have a box full of “Debbie cards” that I can go through any time I want a laugh)

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