Deborah Hanfman (Tolson), of Laurel, Maryland, passed away with her family at her side on Friday, April 28, 2023, at the age of 70. She was born on April 28, 1953 in Washington, DC. Debbie was the oldest child of the late Joseph Francis Tolson and late Ada Carson Tolson (Stump).
Debbie received her bachelor's degree in Biology for Animal Sciences and Zoology from the University of Maryland in 1975. Throughout her undergraduate career, she worked part-time at the Animal Parasitology Lab translating Russian scientific journals for the United States Department of Agriculture. Following graduation she continued her career with USDA for the following 35 years. The highlight of her professional career was working at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as well as leading the National Agricultural Advisory Board as the Executive Director.
Following her retirement from the federal government in 2010, she focused on her passions of family, gardening, reading, and pets. She was often in her numerous gardens caring for her flowers while humming her favorite tune. She was an avid reader, writer, and enjoyed making wreaths for her friends and family. From pet sitting to rescuing cats, animals became a large part of her life. Debbie raised over 20 cats, 4 dogs, and numerous gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs. Debbie’s compassion, empathy, kindness, and generosity will be missed by all who knew her. She truly was one of a kind!
She is survived by her two children, Jacqueline Naik (Tej) and Jason Hanfman (Holly); two grandchildren, Ellie and Jack Hanfman, sister, Ann Posey (Keith); brother Steve Tolson (Elva); step-mother, Bonnie Tolson; and step-sisters Brenda White (Ken) and LeeAnn Taylor (Jeff). She was preceded in death by her father, Joseph Tolson; mother, Ada Tolson; and step-brother, Mark Tucker.
Service will be Saturday, May 13, 2023 at 11:00 AM at the Epiphany Episcopal Church (3111 Ritchie Road, Forestville, MD 20747). The service will be followed by an inurnment at the Epiphany Cemetery and a celebration of life at Epiphany’s Canterbury Hall.
Memorial donations may be made to Animal Advocates of Howard County or Laurel Cats.
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