When my sister, Debra Bingham, died on her 67th birthday, June 3, I lost my best friend! I always knew how lucky I was to have someone in my life that loved me totally - through good times and bad times. Debra was fighting triple negative breast cancer that metastasized to her lungs and brain. She fought to stay alive so she could see my youngest granddaughter, Ava, who had been living in China until a few months ago. Due to COVID-19, we didn't get up to Oregon in time. Debra had a massive stroke. We were able to rush up from California to be with her in Bend for two hours before she died. Our family is small. My daughter, Leila Campbell, was able to come up with her five year-old daughter, Clara Ruth, and her two year-old son, Walter. My son, Todd Bokin, came with his wife, Haiyan, and their eight month-old Ava Qiuai. Of course I was with her. I am her sister, Cheryl Bingham. I want to thank Liz Rowley, owner of Cherish K9 House, and Andrea Rimer for taking Debra's beloved dog, Rosie, over to see Debra in Bend so they could say goodbye to each other. Debra graduated from KUHS in 1971 and OSU in 1975. She was a proud Beaver! She moved back to Klamath Falls in 1985 to work at Basin Glass and Aluminum as the COO and President in partnership with Stan and Kat Larson. Our father, Walt Bingham, always believed that all of us should support the community we live in. Debra was on several boards that included: Klamath Community College, Goodwill, Klamath Falls Chamber of Commerce, Ross Ragland Theater, and KFPD K-9 Board. She was also involved in so many community groups. These groups include: Venture Club, charter member and past president of Sorority (Gamma Delta chapter of Beta Sigma Phi), Soroptimist (past president), Women's Shelter, Kiwanis, and Camp Fire Girls and Boys. My sister took care of our mother, Jean Bingham, for over 20 years. She was always thinking of what would make my mom happy and healthy. She gave up a lot in her life to be the child who had the responsibly for an aging parent. She loved playing Bunco with a group of ladies for 20-plus years. I introduced her to my favorite game, American style Mah Jongg, during her first fight with cancer. We taught several of her friends how to play so she would have some fun while fighting her terrible cancer. She also enjoyed coming down to see me in San Francisco and playing with my crazy group of wonderful friends! Debra received all the artistic genes in our family. She needle-pointed, made wool art hangings, designed and made jewelry, and enjoyed knitting. In fact, she knitted so many scarves that she had to send a lot to China because all her friends and family in America already had several scarves made by her. She also loved to cook and was famous for her lemon cheesecake she would bring to gatherings. She was a collector of Bakelite jewelry. She also collected elephants for many years. She finally declared a moratorium - no more elephants - after I gave her the elephant slippers that kept her tripping over the trunks and the antique concrete elephant planters that almost broke everyone's back when they tried to move them. We both loved going to antique stores and estate sales together. Unfortunately, like most of us, my children do not want any of our "old" things! We went to so many plays, musicals and fine restaurants. Debra loved to travel and took many wonderful trips with her family and friends. Her adventures took her across the oceans to Russia, Scandinavia, Europe, Mexico, Canada, Hawaii, and Alaska. We made three trips to China to see my son in Beijing and Shanghai. He took us to Japan during the last trip. Our favorite trip was to see him get married to Haiyan in front of 500 friends and family in Dingzhou. I want to thank all of Debra's friends who helped her through her final months. It was difficult being so far away from her, but we knew she was in good, loving hands. As I have talked to Debra's friends, I keep hearing that they will miss her sense of humor, kindness and words of wisdom. One of the last things she said to me was to pull up my big girl pants and leave my house after 11 weeks in quarantine in San Francisco. Well, Debra, I certainly have had to pull on my big girl pants while dealing with your death! You aren't here to give me any of your wise advice on facing life without you. Debra, I miss you so much!
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