Family remembers outdoor enthusiast
A woman found floating unconscious in Lake Tahoe who later died was identified by authorities on Tuesday as Debra “Debi” Lynne Wilson, a South Lake Tahoe woman remembered for her fun-loving nature and love of life.
Family members and friends gathered Tuesday at her home to honor Wilson, who died in an apparent personal watercraft accident about 500 feet from the channel of Lighthouse Shores, a small, lakefront neighborhood of Tahoe Keys.
The 51-year-old woman was taken to Barton Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 7:30 p.m. Monday, after CPR was performed by a member of a sailboat crew on the water, reports indicated.
The circumstances and cause of the apparent accident were unknown Tuesday as the case remained under investigation by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
“She never regained consciousness,” police Detective Robbie Hight said.
Wilson worked at Lakeside Marina and served as a ski instructor at Heavenly Mountain Resort for 14 years. She made appearances on Resort Sports Network to give the ski report on the show “Another Heavenly Morning.”
The avid skier, who was a former physical education teacher, enjoyed playing golf, hitting the drums and traveling throughout the United States.
But more than anything, Wilson was described by family and friends as a good-hearted person and athlete extraordinaire with a zeal for life at Lake Tahoe, where she lived, hiked and camped for over the last 14 years. “She was truly a mountain person who loved nature. She loved Emerald Bay. She thought it had a soul,” said her husband, Tom, as tears streamed down his face. He shook his head and added: “It’s ironic. She was an experienced Waverunner (rider). She pulled people out of the water when they fell off (their personal watercrafts).”
The couple had met at Tahoe and raised three children, Paul, 24, Kelli, 20, and Kyler, 16. Tom laughed when he recalled how the Wilsons met through friends in Tahoe.
She grew up in Santa Clara and ended up marching in the Rose Bowl for Cupertino High School.
“I fell in love with her,” he said.
He switched colleges to be with her at Chico State.
“I showed up on her doorstep. I told her: ‘If you don’t marry me now, I don’t want to see you anymore,'” he said. He knew the relationship had merit. They made many memories.
The Wilsons’ prominent yellow house on the corner of Lucerne Avenue and Venice Drive even reflected part of Wilson’s personality. She decorated it for several holidays.
“She loved Thanksgiving. She was always happy to have all her kids home,” he said.
Her son, Paul, said the family “couldn’t keep her indoors.” He understood her love of the outdoors and shared her passion for life.
“She was always there for me,” he said, adding she was the “loudest mom on the soccer field” when her children played.
It didn’t take long before the news of Wilson’s death reverberated through the community.
Eufay Wood, a personal trainer at Sierra Athletic Club, said he had sympathy for the family. He was Tom’s fraternity brother and went to the university with the Wilsons.
Those she worked with remembered Wilson for her incomparable work ethic.
Mike Allen, Heavenly’s director of skier services, said Wilson was “wonderful to be around.”
“Debi was extremely outgoing. She cared about everybody’s feelings and was always willing to help out,” he said.
RSN General Manager Peter Loughlin said Wilson had the cornerstone on how to carry on with a positive attitude – especially when it was a snow day.
“You couldn’t ask for a more ideal person to work with,” he said.