Debbrah Marie Schweitzer Pesce, 53, of Monroe, (above right and left) was remembered over the course of the week in a series of services mourning her. She was the victim of a hit-and-run collision while riding a bicycle Dec. 26.
Photos courtesy of Pesce’s family
Family and friends of Debbrah Marie Schweitzer Pesce, 53, of Monroe, gathered Thursday morning at Monroe Women’s Gospel Mission to remember and grieve the woman who was struck and killed by a motorist while riding her bike in Monroe the evening after Christmas.
A volunteer from Take the Next Step, a resource center in Monroe for those in crisis or difficulty, remembered Pesce tutoring children there during the after-school program Kidz Club. Another woman fondly remembered the two months Pesce stayed at the mission, when they had been roommates.
And there were several people from the Brookside Motel, where she was living at the time of her death, who remembered the woman posting fliers looking for work cleaning, and helping out around the motel.
Pesce’s sister was there and brought photos, too.
Mission Director Dorothy Stima said she was pleased at the large number of people who attended the memorial.
“It was much better attended than I ever could have imagined,” she said.
Family members also held a private memorial for the woman, and another memorial is planned for Tuesday.
Pesce was a hard worker who learned the cleaning business from her mother, said Kathryne Paz, owner of Galaxy Chocolates in Sultan, and Pesce’s cousin.
She and Pesce became close when the two had daughters nearly the same age. Pesce stayed at home with her children while she was still married, Paz said.
Pesce had fallen on hard times in recent months, but didn’t seek help from family, said Paz.
“She was too proud to do that,” said Paz. “She was the type not to want to rely on others to fix her problems.”
Instead, she stayed in her car for a while, then found shelter at the Monroe Gospel Women’s Mission, leaving there in early November before lodging at the Brookside Motel, where she offered to paint and work around the place in exchange for rent.
She was trying to find work and get into an apartment, said Paz.
But as much as she was struggling to help herself, she also took time to help others.
“I know that she loves people and to help people, and she loves kids,” said Paz.
She was also noted by many for her infectious laugh and sense of humor.
“She could smile and light up a room, and even if someone was sad and she was sad she’d still do what she could to try to lift their spirits,” said Paz.
Pesce had many hobbies and interests, too, said her family, among them jewelry, beadwork, upholstery, draperies, painting, drawing, singing and dancing.
Stima said she believes Pesce is in a better place.
“I know she had made a profession of faith,” she said. “We trust that she is heaven now. That’s our belief system.”
As friends and family mourned, police continued to seek the driver who struck the woman at the intersection of U.S. 2 and Chain Lake Road the evening of Dec. 26.
So far, no suspect has been identified, but police are working hard on the case, said Willis.