Deborah Jo (Pearcy) Schlinder (69) of Marco Island/Naples, Florida, passed away at home with family on February 4, after suffering from dementia. Born in Miami on August 11, 1949 and raised in Clewiston, Debbie was proud to call herself a “Cracker.” But she would also tell you that a little piece of her heart remained in Tennessee, where she attended UT, Knoxville and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education. In the fall of 1972, Debbie began her first teaching job at Tommie Barfield Elementary and retired from there 35 years later. In ’73 Deb also became the Activities Program Director for Marco Beach Hotel and would often work as a banquet waitress in the evenings. Debbie married Richard Schlinder in 1976, becoming a devoted stepmother to Laurie (Schlinder) Pozo and Bonnie (Schlinder) DeLap. Deb and Rich divorced in 1996 but she remained on Marco only to later survive a devastating house fire. Her Marco Island community rallied to support and love her through that challenging time which touched her in a deeply, profound way. Truly moved by the outpouring of love and assistance bestowed upon her, Deb knew Marco would always be ‘Home.”
Deb, or Debo as many knew her, enjoyed reading, collecting shells, traveling, singing to music as she drove her car, and being with friends and family. For many years, Debo collected aluminum, supporting the school’s recycling program which she single-handedly began, using a tiny, rickety trailer attached to her car to make the rounds. Her efforts raised money for sports equipment for the children and the program continues today with a permanent recycling container at the school site.
One of Debbie’s greatest honors came when the school named the “Schlinder Pavilion,” in recognition of her years of service to the children of Tommie Barfield. She was overwhelmed by that tribute and appreciated the idea of being remembered for years to come. If she hadn’t taught you PE, or collected aluminum from you, then you may have known Debo from hostessing at the Snook Inn where she would delight at the sight of people enjoying each other, listening to live music and soaking in the beauty of the scenery. She loved Marco Island and was a faithful servant to her community.
Debbie is survived by her step-daughters, Laurie Pozo (Olivio) of Naples, Bonnie DeLap (Russell) of Brookfield, WI; her grandchildren Gabrielle Pozo (Deb’s devoted caregiver), Nicolas Pozo, Marissa, Brennan, Caitlyn, and Chris DeLap; her brothers Matthew Prewitt, Thomas Pearcy; her 4 step sisters, her God-daughters Mariah Dougherty, Tina Morrison, Steinunn Pullen, and her Ladybug Ladies whom she adored.
Debbie was preceded in death by her father Douglas Pearcy, mother Violet Prewitt, step-father “Cap” Prewitt, and step sister.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 pm, Saturday, March 9th at Fuller Funeral Home located at 4735 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, FL. The family will host a gathering on site following the service. Later, they welcome everyone to gather at the Snook Inn, 6:00pm, to celebrate Deb’s life.
In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Naples Cat Alliance would be appreciated.