She was born in Bakersfield and grew up in Pleasanton before moving to Sunol. She was married to Cory Butler at the Little Brown Church of Sunol on its 100th anniversary on Sept. 7, 1985. Debra and Cory moved to Brentwood in 1986.
A fearless businesswoman and entrepreneur, she ran her own interiorscaping business, Ornamental Plant Works, which she founded at age 17. She was involved in several other business ventures, including her U-Pick cherry orchard on the farm.
Debra touched many during her life. A celebration of her life was held on April 30 at The Neighborhood Church in Brentwood. Appropriately, it was a standing-room-only crowd of close to 300.
She leaves behind her husband of 25 years, Cory; children, Ethan, Ellie and Sam; parents, Richard and Diane Kahler of Sonoma; sisters, Susan Kahler of Oakland, Kasey Holman of Houston, and Joni Schaefer of New Canaan, Conn.; and nieces and nephews, Abby, Mason, Lauren, Christopher and Spencer. She also leaves behind many close friends and hundreds of customers she worked with for the past 34 years, who viewed her as a friend more than just a vendor.
As a way to honor her love and connection to kids at risk, the family requests that donations be made in Debra’s name to www.youthhomes.org, a group that works with kids who have aged out of the foster care system. All donations in Debra’s name will be used to grow their “community gardens” project.
The family would also like to thank all who have done so much to help us through this difficult time, many complete strangers. You have inspired us to pay it forward to others.