Cover photo for Debra DeFazio-Gilson's Obituary
Debra DeFazio-Gilson Profile Photo
1956 Debra 2023

Debra DeFazio-Gilson

April 14, 1956 — March 24, 2023


   Debra Gilson, 66, of Sioux City died on Friday, March 24, 2023 at a Sioux City hospital.

   Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at St John Lutheran Church in Sioux City. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Online condolences may be directed to

   Debra DeFazio was born on April 14, 1956 in Brooklyn, N.Y. to Anthony and Gloria (Kapp) DeFazio. Debra grew up in Babylon, N.Y., and lived an idyllic life on Long Island with neighborhood kids who remained her lifelong friends.

   She graduated from West Babylon High School in 1974. Deb came on a music scholarship to Morningside College in Sioux City and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She started and ended her over 30-year career teaching in the Sioux City Community Schools in special education at Joy Elementary, Riverside School, old East Middle, and retiring from new East Middle.

   Debra married the love of her life John Gilson on April 16, 1983 at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Babylon. They made their home in Sioux City. On Feb. 22, 1992 the couple welcomed their daughter Kelley Angelina. Deb’s life revolved around her family, and she shared her love of music with Kelley and her granddaughter Emma. 

   The world is a quieter place. Deb was an outgoing person and loved to talk to people. She had many friends from all walks of life, from coast to coast. She was a water baby and was never happier than being at the pool with her granddaughter Emma. She had a passion for music and Broadway, enjoyed cooking, and had numerous hobbies. She excelled in making stained glass and loved sharing her work with family and friends. Debra was a member of St. John Lutheran Church where she was in the bell choir.

   Debra is survived by her husband John, her daughter Kelley Gilson of Sioux City, granddaughter Emma Arndt, sister Denise DeFazio of Babylon, N.Y.; nieces Rachel Cooke and Sarah Cooke, a sister-in-law Karren (Larry) Rottunda, Irene, S.D.; niece Kourtney Dawson; nephew Kurtis (Adri) Rottunda and their daughters Vera and Sylvie, and her New York cousins.

   She was preceded in death by her parents Anthony and Gloria DeFazio, grandparents John and Angelina DeFazio, and in-laws John and Lenora Gilson. 

   Memorials may be directed to St John Lutheran Church Food Pantry.


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