Fred Deebs, 85,
of Lake Demmon, formerly of Hornell,
passed away early Saturday morning (Jan. 19, 2013) at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Bath.
Born in Hornell on March 22, 1927, he was a son of the late Abraham Zoghibe and was raised by his late mother and stepfather, Mamie Saad Essa and Mike Essa. On March 29, 1948 he was married at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Hornell to the former Thomasine “Tommie” Doyle, who predeceased him on July 11, 2002 after 54 years of marriage. Besides his parents and wife, he was also predeceased by his infant son, John Deebs in 1949 and his grandson-in-law, Zachary Smith in 2010.
A resident of Grand Street in Hornell for most of his life, where he and Tommie raised their family, Blackie has resided at his Lake Demmon home since 2002.
In 1943 at the age of 16 Blackie enlisted in the Navy and saw action in both the European and the Pacific theaters and also took part in the D-Day invasion. He was also stationed at Anzio and in southern France where he took part in Operation Dragoon. It was there that he received the injury that earned him a Purple Heart. After recovery from his injuries at the French Naval Hospital in Marseilles, he served aboard the Destroyer USS Plunkett and was subsequently assigned to the USS Minotaur in the Pacific. In 1945 he also served in Iwo Jima and Okinawa; he was honorably discharged in 1946. After his discharge he joined the Inactive Naval Reserve and in 1951 he returned to active service during the Korean Conflict aboard the aircraft carrier the USS Tarawa and in 1952 he was honorably discharged once again.
After leaving the Navy, Blackie return to Hornell High School to receive his diploma and he later graduated from Alfred State College and received an Associate’s degree in electrical technology. In 1956 he established the Hornell Tank and Pump Company, which specialized in the installation of equipment at area gas stations. In 1976 he began his career as the Superintendent of Public Works for the City of Hornell, a position he held until his retirement.
During the 1960’s Blackie served as an alderman for the City of Hornell and for more than 45 years he was active with the Boy Scouts. He was a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award, attended six national and world jamborees and also volunteered his time at both Camp Gorton and Camp Rathbun. He was a communicant of the former St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Hornell and was also a life member of the Arkport Memorial American Legion Post No. 1248, the Cpl. J.J. Mooney VFW Post No. 2250 in Hornell, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the New York Chapter No. 13 of the Disabled American Veterans.
In his younger years he enjoyed motorcycling as well as water and snow skiing. An avid woodworker and lighthouse collector, Blackie’s favorite pastime was being with his family, especially with his grandchildren, who will always remember the many things that their Grandpa taught them.
His family includes his five children, Thomas (Irene) Deebs of Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., Timothy Deebs of Hornell, Lori (Bob) Flaitz of Hornell, Michael (Andrea) Deebs of Hornell and Karen (Paul) Stevens of Arkport; his 11 grandchildren, Tonie Deebs, John (Martha) Deebs, Anne Smith, Michael, Patrick, Mary Frances, Brendan, Grace and Andrew Deebs, Nicholas and Erin Flaitz; his three great-grandchildren, Kaleb, Mark and Bryan Deebs; his sister, Mary Kay (Lee) Montgomery of Canisteo; also his two nephews, Steven (Kellie) Montgomery and David (Jenna) Montgomery.
Calling hours are from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at the Bishop & Johnson Funeral Home, Inc., 285 Main St., Hornell. Friends are invited to meet his family at St. Ann’s Church where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Committal prayers and interment, with military honors, will follow at Rural Cemetery, Hornell.
The United States flag and the Navy flag will proudly fly at the Bishop & Johnson Funeral Home, Inc. in recognition of Blackie’s military service during World War II and the Korean Conflict.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing may contribute in his memory to either the Hornell YMCA Pool Fund, 12 Center St., Hornell, N.Y. 14843 or to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675. Envelopes for memorial contributions will be available at the funeral home.
Online condolences or remembrances of Blackie are welcomed at www.bishopandjohnsonfuneralhome.com.