Debra Ann Cyr ’80 (NURS)

Debra “Debbie” “Deb” Ann (Atashian) Cyr, 64, passed peacefully into the gentle arms of Eden on Saturday morning, October 8, 2022, at Amberwoods of Farmington, while holding the hand of her devoted husband, Roland.

Debbie was the daughter of the late Jack and Mary (Steves) Atashian, of West Hartford and later, of Naples, Florida. She is survived by her husband Roland, and by her brothers John and his wife Patty of Naples, Florida, and Jim of Bonita Springs, Florida.

Debbie was born in Hartford and raised in West Hartford, proudly attending Hall High, graduating in 1976. She then enrolled in the UConn School of Nursing, graduating in 1980.

Debbie hit the ground running, hired immediately as a graduate nurse in the ER of John Dempsey Hospital (now UConn Health), then certifying as a Registered Nurse in three months. Deb excelled in cardiology and advanced cardiac life support, a specialty that she would return to in the future. After over a dozen years in the ER, Deb downshifted with her good friend Patty and worked at Central Connecticut State University Health Services for 8 years, treating students, staff and faculty, along with specializing in international travel clinic.

Debbie renewed her expertise in cardiology as a per diem cardiac nurse at Bristol Hospital. She quickly parlayed that connection to one of her favorite jobs, as a Cardiovascular Specialist at New Britain General Hospital (now THOCC – New Britain campus). Deb was responsible for the initial evaluation and case management of outpatient cardiac rehab participants. She always said that cardiac rehab was so rewarding because it had such a profound, positive effect on the health and well-being of the patients. Judging by the amount of thank you cards & letters received, and lasting connections that she made with patients, that was quite true.

Debbie’s next phase was at Hartford Hospital, in the Heart Failure and Transplant Center, where she case managed much more ill congestive heart disease patients, and so was often called upon to provide emotional support to both patient and family.

While her former classmates at UConn all noted how much of a sweet, good-hearted, kind person she was, she was also tenacious in her patient advocacy, at all her various positions. She always made sure that the patients got the proper care and meds, understood and followed instructions, and dealt with insurance issues as they arose. Her great smile, laugh and sense of humor also served her well! Debbie’s fierce nature of advocacy was not lost on her husband, who would use her stellar example when he became her patient advocate and champion in the ensuing years.

Deb’s final professional stop was at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in Newington, where she was the RN Case Manager in Primary Care Firm 1. She provided care for over 1200 patients, again making sure that the patients got the proper care and meds, understood and followed instructions, and dealt with VA, VNA and insurance issues as they arose.

Debbie loved to have fun! She enjoyed going out with friends, craft fairs, Whalers & Wolf Pack hockey, concerts, plays, apple harvests, travel and vacations with Roland. Deb especially loved discovering cruising, and looked forward to researching and planning every trip, exploring new areas and islands. And mango daiquiris with little umbrellas! Deb loved the fact that you could wake up almost every day at a new island, sometimes days in a row. She also loved finding those little niche areas on the ships for a peaceful area to read, nap or just chill.

Deb loved food! She loved cooking, baking and going out for a great meal. She especially loved Harry’s Pizza, or any similar New Haven style pie. While she was very health conscious, ate healthy and worked out faithfully, she also had a weakness for great baby back ribs. She made it a point to visit her family in Naples, Florida almost every year, and took everyone out to local rib joints!

To say that she will be greatly missed is a vast understatement.