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1944 Deborah Maria Padua Ferris 2023

Deborah Maria Padua Ferris

February 10, 1944 — August 6, 2023

Chevy Chase

Deborah Padua Ferris passed away in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on August 6, 2023 at the age of 79 after living with cancer for three years.  Deborah loved the ocean (even when not the Venezuelan Caribbean) and wanted to have her summer tradition with her granddaughters during her final days. 

Deborah was the second oldest of six children born to Said and Magdalena Padua in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.  She was raised there alongside a large and loving extended family, spending her summers with her grandparents in their small village “El Tocuyo.”  Her family relocated to Caracas when she graduated high school so she could attend college at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. She combined her studies with a calling to social justice working alongside her mentor and friend, a Jesuit priest, Father Olaso.

After obtaining a law degree, she attended school in England to begin learning English.  She later travelled to Washington, D.C. where she first lived with her cousin who was serving as the Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States.  During that time, Deborah cared for her cousin’s son, taking him to school at Maret (a preview of her later life when she would do the same for her granddaughters).  She then attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where she earned her Bachelors in Sociology--but more importantly, she began planting the seeds for her future family, meeting her husband Paul Ferris and lifelong friends who became family, Lourdes Flaim and Carmen Deeny.   

Deborah and Paul settled in Crofton, Maryland, where Deborah lived until last year when she moved in with her daughter Jamillia.   While raising her two children in Crofton, she also obtained a second law degree at the George Washington University.  Of note, Deborah excelled as a student through her myriad degrees—always hard-working, driven, and studious.  But she was also known as the life of any party and a gracious hostess—having grown up in a home filled with a constant stream of family, friends, and festivities.  She faced life’s challenges with grit, optimism—and a light in her eyes and quick smile that no difficulty could extinguish.

She worked in real estate, for the World Bank, and the Census Bureau—and, never one to sit still, she also found jobs in catering, as an election official, and as a court translator among others. 

Her greatest joy in life was as a mother and grandmother (aka “Nainai”) and her last 15 years were devoted to raising her granddaughters with unmatched generosity, joy, and love. Nainai’s most beloved times were those spent  with her family, travelling and at the theater—and she combined all three whenever she could, even in her final weeks.    

Deborah is survived by her adoring family, including her children, Joseph Ferris and Jamillia Ferris; son-in-law Joshua Harrison; and four cherished granddaughters, Isabella, Meghan, Sadie, and Magdalena.  She is also survived by her younger sisters, Vivian Bocceciampe Padua and Dulce Saldivia Padua; her brothers in law, Lucas Bocceciampe and Nelson Saldivia—all of whom were able to spend time with her as she neared the end of her life, giving her incredible moments of love and joy.  She is also survived by an extended family of nieces, nephews and cousins.  

Deborah’s family is hosting a memorial at Jamillia’s home on Friday, August 11 from 5-7:30.  To join her family or more information, email 

Novenario masses are being held in Caracas at La Ascension del Senor at 5:00 PM beginning on August 9 at 5:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, Deborah’s family welcomes a donation in Deborah’s name to the American Cancer Society or any charitable organization that is meaningful to you.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Deborah Maria Padua Ferris, please visit our flower store.


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