Debra Janit Samad died July 22, 2022, from ALS. She is survived by her husband, Stephen G. Thomas, daughters Stephanie K. Thomas and Emilee Y. Thomas (Ricky Crain), granddaughter Max Estelle Crain, sister Lynn Bonness (John), cousins, brothers/sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and many friends whose visits she cherished during her illness. Debi’s parents, Stanley and Jean (Skirvin) Samad predeceased her.
A graduate of Firestone (Akron) High School, New York University, Case Western Reserve Law School and the CWRU School of Library Science, she found her first love, movies, during high-school as an usher and ticket taker at Akron’s Village Theater and the Fairlawn Cinema. Her encyclopedic knowledge of cinema made her a prized teammate in Trivial Pursuit and a champion at annual parties for the Oscars.
Debi’s father served as Dean of the University of Akron School of Law for 20 years. She worked in the law school’s library and eventually in legal publishing with Banks Baldwin. At her daughter Emilee’s law school graduation, 15 lawyers and one Federal judge were counted in Debi’s extended family.
She volunteered as a driver, scheduler and manager for Meals on Wheels. A devoted Progressive, Debi used some of her mother’s legacy to pay six months of office rent for founding Patriots For Change in Chagrin Falls. Her first job in politics involved New York Mayor Abe Beam’s winning campaign. A member of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party’s Central Committee, Debi was first elected when she lived in Chagrin Falls Township. Unable to find five Democratic precinct residents to sign her nominating petition, she won as an unopposed write-in candidate, with two guaranteed votes.
A celebration of life is planned at a later date. Contributions may be made in her name to the ALS Association, Northern Ohio Chapter, 6133 Rockside Road #301, Independence, OH 44131.
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