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1936 Dr. 2016

Dr. John Debbie Dvm

May 21, 1936 — December 4, 2016

Dr. John G. “Jack” Debbie, 80, of 148 Duprey St., Saranac Lake, died peacefully on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at Mercy Healthcare in Tupper Lake. Born in New York City on May 21, 1936, he was the son of Dr. and Mrs. Anthony Gerald Debbie (O’Reilly). Jack grew up in Plainfield, NJ and White Plains NY where he attended Archbishop Stepinac High School and graduated in 1954.

Jack attended Georgetown University and graduated from Seton Hall University in 1958. He then moved to Saranac Lake to work as a fisheries biologist for the New York State Conservation Department. In Saranac Lake Jack met the love of his life Janet Mary Munn. Jack and Janet were married at St. Bernards Church on Sept. 12, 1959. Jack then took his new bride on what would become a lifetime of adventure that would eventually lead them back to the mountain town that they both considered home.

Jack studied white tailed deer populations at the Adirondack League Club while working on his Masters in Wildlife Biology at Cornell University. He graduated in 1962 and Jack and Janet moved to the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada where Jack attended the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). Jack graduated with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from OVC in 1965. Part of Jack’s studies at OVC included extensive work on zoonotic disease in deer.

Jack and Janet then moved to Albany, NY where Jack took a position as an associate research scientist with the NYS Dept. of Health. This was the beginning of a career of public service that would last for over three decades. In 1968 Jack and Janet took their new family to Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa. There Jack worked on a UN funded project to study the effects of new game parks on the biology of African wildlife. The family returned to the US in 1970 and Jack took a position as head of the state rabies section of the NYS Dept. of Health in Guilderland, NY. There Jack began his long career studying the biology of the rabies virus and its impact on both wildlife and human populations. This work included the development of an oral rabies vaccine program that has since been deployed here in the US and in some European countries with the goal of eradication of the disease in the wild.

In 1979 Jack and Janet were able to settle with their family back in Saranac Lake where Jack took a position as the Public Health Director for Franklin County. In 1986 he traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to work for two years on a UN -funded position with the World Health Organization working on the eradication of rabies in underdeveloped countries. Following his work with WHO Jack took his final position with the state as the NYS Public Health Veterinarian based in Albany. Throughout his years as a research scientist and public speaker he published many scholarly articles and several textbook chapters. In 1996 after 31 years of public service he reluctantly settled into retirement where he lived out the remainder of his life with Janet close by his side at their home on the shores of Lake Flower.

Jack loved his work but was also a devoted husband and father. He was a volunteer with Hospice of the North Country, a member of the Rotary Club of Saranac Lake and an adjunct professor at NCCC. He was a member of the Elks Club from 1960 until his death and a Past Exalted Ruler of Elks Lodge 2480 in Guilderland and an Honorary Life Member of Saranac Lake Elks Lodge 1508. Throughout his life he was an avid Yankee and NY Giants fan.

Jack is survived by two daughters: Dr. Patricia Monroe and her husband Raymond of Saranac Lake and Pamela Hill and her husband Ralph “Bunker” Hill of Troy, NY; one son, Paul Debbie and his wife Dr. Dorothy Debbie of Ithaca, NY; six grandchildren: John and Samuel Debbie, Thomas, Michael, and Forrest Monroe, Patrick Hill; and many beloved nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death in March of this year by his wife Janet M. Debbie. He was also preceded in death by his mother and father, his sister Sister Mary Paul Debbie OP of Ossining, NY and his brother William Debbie of Hicksville, NY. His wife’s Saranac Lake family became his as well and he is happy to now be reunited with his sister in law Margaret (Munn) DeVit, brother in law Mario DeVit, sister in law Helen (Morgan) Munn, brother in law David Munn, and sister in law Eleanor Munn (wife of Joseph Munn).

Calling hours will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday December 8th at the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake with an Elks Memorial Service to follow. A Mass of Christian burial will take place at 11 a.m. Friday December 9th at St. Bernards Church with the Reverend Patrick Ratigan officiating. Burial will follow at St Bernards Cemetary. Those wishing to make charitable contributions in Jack’s memory are asked to consider the Saranac Lake Elks Lodge local scholarship fund.

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