Deborah Gillikin

Deborah Carole Henry Gillikin, 56, of Morehead City, passed away Thursday, May 27, 2021, at her home after a courageous 18-month battle with brain cancer.

Her celebration of life service is at 1 p.m. Thursday at First United Methodist Church of Morehead City.

Debbie underwent several brain surgeries, treatments and a clinical trial performed by the medical team at Duke’s Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. Debbie fought glioblastoma, a very aggressive type of brain cancer, with a beautiful attitude and inspiring courage. She will be loved forever and never forgotten.

Born Jan. 3, 1965, Debbie spent her childhood years in Wilmington. After spending many summers and vacations at Atlantic Beach with her family, she moved to Carteret County in the sixth grade and remained in this community.

Debbie’s passion in life defined her family, a mother to her two sons, Will and Owen, and to her husband, Curtis. She loved all her people. Her second passion in life was teaching. Debbie was a first-grade teacher at Morehead City Primary School for more than 23 years and loved every child she ever taught. Teaching filled her heart with so much joy.

Debbie earned her associate’s degree at Louisburg College then continued her education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in education.

Debbie had a love for the outdoors and found tremendous joy in boating. She could operate a boat better than most men. Often, Debbie would take the boat out by herself with the family’s black lab, Luke. She enjoyed fishing with her dad and brothers aboard the Miss Judy,fishing many marlin tournaments with them over the years. Additionally, Debbie fished in many king mackerel tournaments and fished for fun with her husband and sons. She thrived on being with her family and friends, liked having a good time and loved to laugh and smile.

Her family meant the world to her, and she enjoyed spending time with her many dear friends. Debbie had many different names. First and foremost, her sons called her Mama, her daddy called her Pumpkin, her Mim and Pop called her Sister, her husband, Curtis, called her Honey and her late grandfather Lacy Carl Henry began the tradition of Debbie-Doo and many of her family and friends followed suit with that name. Aunt Debbie was legendary to her nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews and many of their friends, who also called her “Aunt Debbie.” Her students called her Ms. Debbie and later on, Ms. Gillikin. All her students knew she loved them dearly. She had a way of looking at the bright side of things and was a very positive person throughout her life.

She is survived by her husband of 29 years, William Curtis Gillikin Sr.; sons, William “Will” Curtis Gillikin II and Owen Henry Gillikin, both of Morehead City; mother, Judy B. Henry of Atlantic Beach; brothers, Wayne Henry and wife Tina, Keith Henry and wife Beth of Atlantic Beach and Kenneth Henry and wife Ashley of Morehead City; sisters-in-law, Loretta G. Baily and husband Dykeman and Pollyanna G. Cox of Morehead City; and brother-in-law, Charles L. Gillikin Jr. of Newport. She is also survived by her nieces and nephews, Hannah Henry Meads and husband Nick, Jonathan Henry and wife Lorah, Wayne Henry II, Caroline Henry Petrilli and husband Anthony, Parker Henry and wife Mckenzie, Rachel Henry, Charlotte Henry, Dega Lancaster and husband Robert, Katie Salter and husband Clint, Dyckman Baily V and wife Kristen, Charles L. Gillikin III and wife Madeline, Dylan Cox and wife Kayla, Jared Cox, Logan Gillikin and Ally Gillikin; and great-nieces and nephews, John Michael, Anna, Mary and Henry Meads, Cate and Jackson Henry, Hazel and David Petrilli, Mason Curtis Lancaster, Baily and Anna Kate Salter and Victoria and Caroline Marie Baily.

All were very dear to their Aunt Debbie; she loved every one of them with all her heart. They adored Aunt Debbie. She loved having the opportunity to have them spend time with her after school in the classroom and working with them on their homework. They were the apples of her eye, and they always knew she had their back no matter what. She will miss not having the opportunity of meeting her own grandchildren, but the family will do its best to tell them all about her and her love for them. They know they will meet her in heaven because she will be there waiting for them when their time comes.

She is also survived by her aunts and uncles, Marilyn Ragan and husband Jimmy, Linda Hill and husband Kenny, Paula Miller and husband Ricky of Oriental and Hilda Gillikin and husband Rodney of Williamsburg, Va.; and many special cousins.

She was preceded in death by her father, Lacy Meredith Henry; and her in-laws, Charles L. and Marie B. Gillikin; along with many other family members waiting to meet her at the gates of heaven with open arms. God Bless.

At Debbie’s request and by her family’s wish, they extend heartfelt thanks to all caregivers, doctors, nurses and hospice. They also thank the First United Methodist Church members, Debbie’s Morehead City Primary School family and the many friends for their support, meals, desserts, cards and prayers. Thank you to every single person.

Visitation will follow the service in the fellowship hall.

The family suggests memorial donations be made to Duke’s Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Foundation or First United Methodist Church, 900 Arendell St., Morehead City, NC 28557.

Arrangements are by Noe-Brooks Funeral Home of Morehead City. Condolences and life tributes may be sent to the family at

(Paid obituary)

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