Cover photo for Debbie King Ferkau's Obituary
Debbie King Ferkau Profile Photo

Debbie King Ferkau


Nov 18, 2020


Helen "Debbie" "Dee" Ferkau nee King passed away peacefully at home on November 13, 2020 after a brief illness. A force in life, Debbie transformed a difficult childhood into an amazing journey. Her leaving home at an early age exposed her children to numerous adopted grandparents, aunts and uncles who we never saw as being anything but part of the family. Always artistic, she was a world-class floral designer by her late teens. Additionally, she taught art and cooking, waited tables and could sell whatever wasn't nailed down (provided she didn't have a claw hammer). She had an incredible impact not just on her children but on everyone around her, as a mentor and teacher. Mom believed that there was nothing she couldn't do and passed that belief on to everyone, from her family to the folks who worked at Marshall Field's downtown store, where she worked for years. Mom always told us, "when you wake up every day, you have a choice: you can be sad, angry, upset, or happy. I choose to be happy.” She told us our choice belonged to us. She lived her choice for nearly 89 years, even through declining health. Mom had a special fondness for anyone wearing a uniform, given that her six brothers were all firemen. She was so proud of them and their careers with the Chicago Fire Department. Whenever she engaged someone in uniform - police, fireman, paramedic - we were delayed 5-10 minutes while she pulled out pictures and waxed poetic about them... it was sometimes a pain in the butt to get anywhere quickly with her. Debbie was predeceased by her beloved husband George, who she has missed every day since his passing in 1999, her parents John and Katherine King, her brothers Jack, Bud (Jeremiah), Tom (Dennis), Bill, and Jim, and most recently her grand-dog Riley. Mom, speaking of her grand-dogs Riley and Lexi, often told her children, "I love these puppies more than I ever loved any of you!" She is survived by her brother Michael King, her children, Steven (Laura Ikens), Susan (Kurt Neumann), Nancy (ex. Richard Freedkin), and Karen; her grandchildren, Kaitlin, Luke, Arie and Aaron, more nieces and nephews than any of us can count -- it's an Irish/German family -- and special adopted family members Payman Jalayer and Soohee Choi, Nancy and David Schmidgall and their children, Lauren and Jillian, and Jeff Wong. Mom had a habit of "adopting" anyone and anything, whether you wanted to be adopted or not. That you weren't named in the "survived by" section does not mean you were not thought of or loved. If you met Debbie, you were loved. Near the end, Mom let us know she was going home. Whenever she was asked where she was from, her response ALWAYS was, “Heaven’s my home, I’m here on a visit.” A memorial will be held at some time in the future when we can celebrate her life and legacy properly. Arrangements entrusted to The Oaks Funeral Home 630-250-8588 or

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