Name: David Joseph Debono
What year did you graduate from STA: 1976. I attended from grade 1 to 8.
After STA, you graduated from: I attended Brebeuf High School, Purdue University and then onto IU School of Medicine.
Where do you live now? I live in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Please tell us about your family: My wife Pam and I have 3 children. Our STA story, however, begins many years earlier with my parents. Our family moved to Indianapolis in 1963 and lived on the east side for two years. Then we moved to Kenwood Avenue and the STA convent was directly behind us. We became great friends with the Blakes and many other neighbors on Kenwood. We became parishioners of STA in 1965 and my parents continue to go there to this day. We moved from Kenwood in 1967 but never left STA. My parents have been very active at STA in all different phases of their lives. They have been good to STA and STA has been very good to our family. The parish has shared in the great joys of our family and the deep sorrow of our lives as well. Its really quite a story: my parents moved from San Francisco, Californina with two infants and somehow settled in Butler Tarkington and have never left. Its been a great love story.
What have you been up to since leaving STA? After completing my hematology-oncology training I chose to work in a small Catholic hospital in Kankakee, Illinois. I stayed there from 1996-2009. We lived in a historic neighborhood near the scenic Kankakee River. We made great friends at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church. While there we adopted three children. Sara in 1998, Joseph in 1999 and Grace in 2001. The all were born in Medellin, Colombia. They have been a source of great joy for our family.
As my career advanced, I became interested in hospice and palliative medicine and worked for the Hospice of Kankakee Valley on the side. I became board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2003. In 2009 we moved to the Detroit area to be closer to Pam’s family. Pam’s mother died in 2009 and her father died in 2020. Our grief has turned to joy with the arrival of Sara’s son, Amani. He was born on 9/24/21. We are really enjoying our time with him. When I moved to Detroit, I worked as a palliative medicine physician for two large hospitals and in 2017 began work at Anthem as their National Medical Director for Oncology.
An interesting fact about Sara’s adoption. After my sister, Rebecca’s, wedding in August of 1998, Pam and I brought my father’s dad back to his home land of Malta. On the second day of our trip to Malta we received a phone call from our adoption lawyer that Sara had been born and that we needed to go immediately to Colombia to meet her. So we had to make very hasty arrangements to fly from Malta to Colombia. It was a whirlwind trip but worth it, and so memorable to meet Sara for the first time.
What is your favorite STA memory? My first was I remember how nervous I was to go to the first day of first grade. I was so relieved to see Susannah Blake who was my friend when I was age 3 to 5: we lived across the street from the Blakes for two years. It was a great feeling to see her. Our grade 6-8 years were memorable for having Mr, Ira Jaffe as our teacher and coach. Our basketball team was very close (still are) and we had some great games and triumphs. Mr Jaffe was such a huge influence on our class and we were so sad when he died in December. I had great birthday parties with my classmates and often did special things like go to Pacer Games. Our class all remember the very different experiences we had at STA like having poets and artists in residence, film festivals on life, meditation and Wednesday afternoon electives. What a treat to have those experiences at a young age.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I like to cook, go to concerts and plays, have Sunday dinners with my family, and play with my grandson.
What words of advice would you offer a current STA student? The first piece of advice is to go out of your way to be kind to all of your classmates. If someone is shy or not “fitting in” please reach out to them. You will always be remembered for your kindness. Try to have a close knit class that enjoys doing things together outside of class. You will be rewarded with lifetime friendships and will always have someone to call if you are struggling. Take advantage of your religious education. This is an important time of your life and you need to deep down believe that you were created by God, that you are part of the body of Christ, and that your life has purpose. There are lot of distractions these days, but you will be so happy all of your life if you know in your heart that you have a friend in Jesus.
Is there any other information you would like to share about yourself?
The Class of 1976: Our class was blessed because there was a core group that stayed together for the entire 8 years at STA. We were not a perfect class. We may not have been as accepting as we could have been to some classmates that were new or only stayed for a year or two. Nevertheless, we have been blessed by lifelong friendships. We have had several STA reunions and in January 2023, we had our 47 year reunion! We had 20 of 26 classmates back for the reunion with people coming from California, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan. We even had some of our parents join us. We still laugh together and love one another. I encourage you to do the same. Care for each other now, Look out for each other. And do better than us: reach out to all of your classmates, make everyone feel included and loved.