It is with great sorrow that we reflect on the passing of Debbie Lee Noel. Debbie was a long-time Via Mobility Services rider and member of our Board of Directors. Soon after moving to Longmont from her Pennsylvania home, Debbie became an active voice of the community and the region. She advocated for others with physical limitations and was an artist, writer of notes, a mom, Nana, and a cherished friend to more people than I could ever estimate.
Many years ago, Debbie was the victim of an accidental gunshot at a party where a handgun had been left loaded. Debbie’s spinal cord had been severed as a result. Raising two children while dealing with the harsh reality of being confined to a wheelchair was one of the many challenges that Debbie faced, yet it did not define her. I will always think of Debbie as one who did not allow the pain and emotional pressures of living with a terrible injury to take over. Debbie was talented, charming, and a formidable leader.
Complications from that gunshot took Debbie from us just a short time ago, and we continue to learn how to honor her memory and all that she contributed her time and energy to. Debbie’s influence on her community is evident, and this will endure. I know that Debbie helped to make Via a far better company, and her vision will be a part of what employees and riders experience for years to come.
When I spent time with Debbie just a few days before her passing, she asked me to sing for her. It was not to comfort her, though she did smile when I replied that it would not be pleasant for her to listen to. She was auditioning me to sing at her funeral, and I did not pass. However, before long, she joined me in singing Yesterday from the Beatles, and as always, she brought extra meaning to the moment.
We will miss our dear friend Debbie, but her art, her words, her kindness, and her contributions will be with us as we continue with our lives and our work.
Written by Frank W. Bruno, Chief Executive Officer