On Thursday Dec. 17, Debra Poplawski-Wilson, 57, a former resident of Rutland passed away peacefully at her father’s home in Mendon. She bravely fought Glioblastoma Brain Cancer for 43 months and was considered a long-term survivor.
The daughter of Eugene J. and Barbara P. (Grum) Poplawski she was born in Belleville, New Jersey on Nov. 17, 1963. Early in her childhood, the family moved to Bridgewater and after a few years in Bridgewater, finally settled in Rutland.
Debra Poplawski-Wilson was a very active person her entire life. In her teen years as a student, she played tennis and ski raced and varsity lettered for both. She was also active in choir, marathon, honor society, cheerleading, and other high school activities. She was also a member of the Pico Ski Club.
She was a familiar face at Pop’s Place, the restaurant owned by her family.
After school, she participated in Rotary exchange program, which took her to Brazil. She said it was an experience of a lifetime and she learned fluent Portuguese while abroad. She also traveled Europe for a short time before coming back to Rutland. Once home, Deb renewed her educational goals and received her Bachelor of Science Psychology in 1986 and, upon attending online courses with the Phoenix University, she finally received her Masters’ degree in Psychology in 2010.
Deb’s life was funny though and she laughed that she could do better in the restaurant business than as a psychologist. She worked in many restaurants and clubs over her lifetime as a waitress and bartender but most passionately as a pastry chef.
Her passion for baking led to what personified her life. Her passion for baking led to her operating four bakeries in the Rutland and Killington areas. Most recently, she operated Sweet Lovin’ Creations on Wales St. in 2017 – 2018 before her cancer made it impossible to continue the shop. However, she also had a “home” bakery and was well known for her beautiful wedding, anniversary and birthday creations.
Debra Poplawski-Wilson loved the outdoors and was a lifelong skier that raced in her early years and taught at the Killington Ski School.
After her cancer diagnosis and closing of the bakery, she strived to ski 100 days a season at Killington, a goal that she accomplished three times in the last five years. She was at 84 days when Covid ended her season in March. She was also an avid kayaker, hiker, nature lover and had a “green thumb” for all of her indoor and outdoor gardens.
Poplawski-Wilson was also a loving, caring and devoted mother to her two children, Tamra Kaye and Madison (Madi) Claire Jaurigue. Madison was born with hydrocephalus. Madi’s care required constant attention, multiple surgeries, three shunts and numerous other items required for a special needs child. Unfortunately, Madi predeceased her on March 12, 2012.
Tamra completed college and now resides in Texas.
In 2015, Debra Poplawski met George Wilson through and on-line dating service and they were immediately drawn to each other. Their abilities as expert skiers, outdoors junkies, kayakers, hikers, etc. drew them together and on Oct. 1, 2016 they were married in Killington. Nine months later, they received the devastating news that her recent seizure was due to brain cancer. From that day forward, Deb and George attempted to do anything and everything she wanted. George repeatedly told Deb to “live life on your terms.”
She was also an active member of causes that were dear to her, including:
She was the creator and founder of the Madifund. A program that brings top neurosurgeons and other health care professionals from around the country to speak at UVM lectureship. This was established in honor and memory of her dear Madison.
She was active in the Vermont readiness group with the National Guard and one of few civilians to be honored by them.
Rutland Family support network
One of the creators of the “woodchip” parkway to divert traffic flow on Route 4 during Tropical Storm Irene
Parent to parent peer recognition
National Hydrocephalus Foundation
Fundraised for Madi’s room at the new Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge – Home to Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sport center at Pico mountain
Mary Kaye Cosmetics
Debra Poplawski-Wilson leaves her loving husband George Wilson of West Wardsboro, her father Eugene Poplawski of Mendon, her mother, Barbara Poplawski who predeceased her in August 2019, and her daughter Tamra Jaurigue of Texas. Her sisters Donna Poplawski-Kreie of Texas, Denise Wall of Massachusetts, Deonne Myrick of Randolph, Karen Terry of Islip, New York, and her brother, E.J. Poplawski of Salt Lake City, Utah, she also left her close friends affectionately known as the Divas from the Sarana, New York area, numerous family of the heart from around the world and all of her friends and neighbors.
A memorial service to recognize and remember Debra Poplawski-Wilson’s life will be held at a later date. Memorial gifts in her memory may be made to the Hydrocephalus Association hydroassoc.org.
To send personal condolences to the family, please visit sheafuneralhomes.com.