Debra A. Gragen, 57: Helped others through illness

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TOPSHAM — Debra A. Gragen, 57, of Topsham, died at Maine Medical Center on Nov. 25 of complications from a lifelong struggle with diabetes.

Gragen was born March 29, 1956, in Nashua, N.H., the third daughter of John and Elizabeth Demakis. She grew up in Brunswick and Topsham, graduating from Mt. Ararat High School in 1974. On Nov. 17, 1995, she married Michael Gragen, and the couple made their home on Cathance Road in Topsham.

Gragen began working at the Navy Exchange shortly after high school, and rose to become general store manager of the Exchange. She retired due to illness in 1996.

She was known for her generosity, and volunteered at the Christmas Fair of the Navy Officers Wives Club for several years. After the base closure, she and her husband continued to help out with the Christmas Fair through the All-Military Association, donating proceeds to local charities, including Midcoast Hunger Prevention and the Navy Relief Fund.

Gragen and her husband loved taking trips together to Bar Harbor. They also traveled to North Conway, N.H., each November to celebrate their wedding anniversary and kick off the Christmas shopping season. Wiscasset Speedway was another favorite destination, and at home Gragen enjoyed watching NASCAR races on TV.

Most of all, she enjoyed spending time with family, especially holiday celebrations, Saturday lunches and shopping excursions with her sister.

Gragen’s illness required strength and character, traits for which she was well known. She met the challenges with fortitude and often assisted others in dealing with diabetes. She also worked with Dr. Timothy Howe on a locally televised forum about the effects of diet on the disease.

She is survived by her husband, Michael; two sisters, Geraldine Reeves, of Brunswick, and Christina (Rodney) Davis, of Richmond; two stepchildren, Zachary (Katherine) Gragen, of Ashland, Mass., and Mary (Michael) Rogers, of Laurence Harbour, N.J.; two stepgrandchildren, Laura and Jack; several nieces and nephews; and her special nephew, Eric (Amy) Brewer.

Gragen’s family would like to thank Howe for his years of care and consideration.

Visiting hours were held Nov. 27 at Brackett Funeral Home, in Brunswick. A funeral took place Nov. 29 at the home, and burial followed at Rogers Cemetery in Topsham.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Association of New England, 60 Walnut St., Wellesley, MA 02481.

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