Debra Thygerson Rhoton, a longtime resident of Virden, New Mexico, passed away October 17, 2023, at the Haven Health Nursing Facility surrounded by family. She was 69.
Debra was born March 7, 1954, to Antone and Maurine Thygerson. She was the baby of the family, born very premature. She was 16 years younger than her oldest brother. Her mom lost four babies before she was born (Elizabeth, Harold, Tonie, and Gloria Ann) so she was very loved!
Debra attended Duncan Schools where she was in choir, 4-H and showed animals in the fair, and in high school a cheerleader for Duncan High School. Her love of music came after an accident when she was 7 years old that prevented her from participating in sports. Her mom encouraged her to pursue music. She loved to sing and play the piano.
Debra met Bendrew Rhoton while attending EAC. They were married May 18, 1973 in the Mesa, Arizona Temple. Together they had 7 children: Bristol, Mindy, Celeste, Heber, Whitney, Jory, and Kamm.
Debra was a school bus driver from 1989 to 2010 when she medically retired. Debra loved children and they loved and respected her. She worked in the special ed department and then moved to the elementary school where she was the librarian and computer/keyboard instructor. She then took the position as high school librarian/college proctor for Eastern Arizona College dual courses. She supported music in the schools and taught music appreciation classes. She was a member of the women’s singing group, a 4-H leader, and a lifelong supporter of the 4-H program. She was known for her famous Rhoton BBQ sauce.
She was a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, serving in multiple leadership positions including Primary President, YW President, RS President, and Stake Primary Counselor.
She was a light to all she met. She suffered from multiple illnesses but was always thinking of how she could help others (a trait she passed on to her kids). In the last months of her life, she was in Haven Health Nursing Facility and was always thinking of others trying to serve them all she could, even though she couldn’t move her body very well anymore.
Debra is survived: by her husband, Ben; and her children: Bristol (Lindsay), Mindy (Randall) Claridge, Celeste (Jeremy) Brown, Heber (Brooke), Whitney (Jacob) Lacey, Jory (Chantelle), Kamm (Amy); 28 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren; and her brother, Gerald.
Debra is preceded in death by: her parents, Antone and Maurine; 5 of her siblings: Stanley, Elizabeth, Harold, Tonie, and Gloria Ann; also, her twin granddaughters, Madison and McKenzie Rhoton.
Funeral services for Debra will be conducted Friday, October 27, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. at the Duncan Stake Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, conducted by Bishop Randall Claridge of the Virden Ward. Concluding services will follow at the Virden Cemetery.
The family will receive friends Friday morning, October 27, 2023 from 9:00 until 9:45 a.m. in the Duncan Relief Society Room of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.