Debra Dawn (Gates) Lewis, 44, of Olathe, KS passed away Wednesday February 14, 2018. She was born March 2, 1973 in Chanute, KS to Darrell and Gayle Gates. She married Casey Lewis September 7, 1996 with whom she built a wonderful family including two sons, Conor and Brigham.
Debra graduated from high school in Burlington, KS in 1991 and received a bachelor’s degree from Emporia State University in 1995. Following college, she had a successful and fulfilling career at Seaboard Corporation before she decided to leave the workforce to spend more quality time with her family and friends.
She had an unconditional love for her family and friends. She was known for her organization and event planning talents. Whether it was planning family get togethers or movie nights with friends, she enjoyed bringing people together and ensuring each individual would enjoy that time together.
One of Debra’s greatest pleasures was being on the beach. She longed to be there as much as possible and enjoyed many vacations to beautiful beaches around the world with those she loved. Her favorites included Antiqua and Mexico. She loved to record her memories by putting together picture books of her vacations.
Breast Cancer played a pivotal role in her life after being diagnosed at age 30, but she did not allow it to define her. In fact, while she long battled this dreaded disease, she lived a fulfilling life that is and will always be an inspiration to all that know her. She did not complain or ask ‘why me’. She found a way to incorporate the cancer in her daily life, pretty much oblivious to most everyone. She was able to continue building her family and doing the things she loved with her friends and family. While she eventually succumbed to cancer, she truly beat it during her life.
Debra’s legacy is defined in many ways, but is rooted in her beautiful, kind soul that demonstrated her love, humor, strength, courage, perseverance, positivity, selflessness and her generous heart. She undeniably made the world a better place and is a hero to many.
While embarking on her own journey, she became passionate for the cause. For many years, family and friends joined her for the annual Kansas City Race for the Cure and she and her team were regularly recognized for assembling the largest community team and for raising tens of thousands of dollars for the cause. She always appreciated spending this time with her army of supporters and she was humbled by and so proud of what they accomplished together.
Also inspired by her own journey, Debra founded a not-for-profit foundation called The Believe Project (https://www.thebelievebagproject.com). Through her foundation, she continues to touch the lives of hundreds of breast cancer patients. She was extremely proud of her foundation and it is one of her greatest accomplishments. Her family and friends will ensure her work continues and the foundation lives on.
Of course her greatest accomplishment was being a wonderful mother to her two boys who she loved beyond measure.
Our hearts are broken and our sweet, precious Debra will be dearly missed. We were lucky to have her in our lives. She will forever be remembered and will always be an inspiration and role model.
Debra was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Paul and Betty Coots, her paternal grandfather, Floyd Gates, and her grandparents-in-law, Floyd and Almo Lewis.
She is survived by her husband, Casey Lewis, and her spirit lives through her sons Conor and Brigham. She is also survived by her parents, Darrell and Gayle Gates; her brother Daron and sister-in-law Jana Gates and nephew Dawson and niece Drew; her sister Dena Gates and nephew Treyson and niece Sydnee; and paternal grandmother Maxine Gates. She is also survived by her in laws, Larry and Cecelia Lewis; her sister and brother-in-law, Shannon and Richard Friend, and niece Caitlynn and nephews Payton and Cameron.
Debra’s wishes were to be cremated and her ashes to be scattered in the ocean near a beautiful beach. She also wished for the family to organize a gathering of family and friends to reminisce and celebrate her wonderful life. Debra’s Celebration of Life will be on Saturday March 3, 2018 at the Heritage Center at Mahaffie in Olathe, 1200 Kansas City Rd, Olathe KS 66061. The celebration will begin at 4:30pm and will continue for a few hours.
In lieu of gifts or flowers, Debra asked for any donations to go to The Believe Project. Please visit her website at https://www.thebelievebagproject.com for details on how to donate. Donations are tax deductible.
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