Deborah Pickering
  • Born on: August 18, 1941
  • Departed on: May 28, 2024
  • Resided in: Cedar Rapids, IA

Deborah Pickering

Deborah (“Debbie”) Hawkins Pickering, 82, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, passed away on May 28, 2024 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Debbie will be missed every day.  She was a loyal and loving partner and wife, mother and grandmother, sister and aunt, with unconditional love for her family and friends.  Nothing made her happier than holding a baby in her arms. She was also a long-time educator and mentor; and an advocate for nature and animals. 

Debbie was born on August 18, 1941 to Max S. Hawkins and Dolores Helmer Hawkins in Iowa City, Iowa.  She attended St. Mary’s School (K-8).  After graduating from Iowa City High School in 1959, Debbie went on to study English at the University of Iowa and was an active member of the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, graduating in 1963 (63BA). She then earned her Master’s Degree in English at Iowa (67MA). She helped to design the English curriculum at the new Area Ten Community College (later renamed Kirkwood) in the late nineteen sixties. 

Debbie began her doctoral studies with the University of Iowa’s Department of Education & Philosophy in 1976.  She received her Doctorate in Philosophy & Education (82PhD) with an emphasis in English Education.  While working as a graduate assistant she met fellow graduate student and doctoral candidate David E. Pickering in 1977.  They were married on January 6, 1981 in Iowa City, Iowa.

Debbie resumed her teaching career in English Education at Northern Illinois University from 1982 to 1987; University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point from 1987 to 1989; Rosary College in River Forest, Illinois from 1990 to 1993; and Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois from 1995 to 2010. Later in her career and into her retirement years, the discovery of Native American ancestry in her mother’s genealogy led her to become an active member of the Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin.

Debbie is survived by her husband David of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; her three sons Jeffrey R. Horne of Wilton, Iowa, Benjamin W. Horne (Katie Horne) of Napa, California, and Samuel S. Horne (Jessica Horne) of Glen Rock, New Jersey; her six grandsons Joseph Horne of North Liberty, Iowa; John Horne of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Josh Horne of Iowa City, Iowa; Jordan Horne of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Benjamin and Harrison Horne of Glen Rock, New Jersey; her sisters Elizabeth Kepp (Paul Kepp) of Falls Church, Virginia; Anne Kennedy (Michael Kennedy) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Cathy Engel (Rick Engel) of West Des Moines, Iowa; her brother Max S. Hawkins Jr. (Kathy Hawkins) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and her ex-husband Richard D. Horne of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  

She was predeceased by her parents, Max and Dolores Hawkins. 

A Celebration of Debbie’s Life will be held on July 27, 2024 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Iowa City University Heights from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

Debbie and her family are very grateful for the caregivers at Country House Residence in Cedar Rapids, Iowa who lovingly helped her through her illness. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation. Memorial donations in memory of Deborah Hawkins Pickering may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association (, The Nature Conservancy (, or to the Brothertown Indian Nation (
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