MENDON- On Thursday, December 17, heaven received Debra Poplawski-Wilson 57. The former resident of Rutland died peacefully at her father’s home. She bravely fought glioblastoma brain cancer for 43 months and was considered a long-term survivor.
The daughter of Eugene J. and Barbara P. (Grum) Poplawski, she was born in Belleville, NJ, on November 17, 1963. Early in her childhood, the family moved to Bridgewater, VT and after a few years in Bridgewater, finally settled in Rutland.
She was a very active person her entire life. In her teen years as a student, she played tennis and ski raced and varsity lettered for both. She was active in choir, marathon, honor society, cheerleading, and other high school activities. She was also a member of the Pico Ski Club. She was a familiar face at Pops’ Place, the restaurant owned by her family.
After school, she participated in the Rotary exchange program, which took her to Brazil. She said it was an experience of a lifetime and she learned fluent Portuguese while abroad. She also traveled in Europe for a short time. Once home, she renewed her educational goals and received her Bachelor of Science in psychology in 1986 and after attending online courses with Phoenix University, she finally received her master’s degree in psychology in 2010.
Her life was funny though and she laughed that she could do better in the restaurant business than as a psychologist. She worked in many restaurants and clubs over her lifetime but most passionately as a pastry chef. The passion for baking led to what personified her life: baking. Her passion for baking led to her operating four bakeries in the Rutland and Killington areas. Most recently, she operated Sweet Lovin’ Creations on Wales Street in 2017 and 2018 before her cancer made it impossible to continue the shop. However, she also had a “home” bakery and was well known for her beautiful wedding, anniversary, and birthday creations.
She loved the outdoors and was a lifelong skier who raced in her early years and taught at the Killington Ski School. After her cancer diagnosis and closing of the bakery, she strived to ski 100 days a season at Killington, a goal that she accomplished three times in the last five years. She was at 84 days when COVID ended her season in March. She was also an avid kayaker, hiker, nature lover, and had a “green thumb” for all of her indoor and outdoor gardens.
Mrs. Poplawski-Wilson was also a loving, caring, and devoted mother to her two children, Tamra Kaye and Madison (Madi) Claire Jaurigue. Madison was born with hydrocephalus. Madi’s care required constant attention, multiple surgeries, three shunts, and numerous other items required for a special-needs child. Unfortunately, Madi died on March 12, 2012. Tamra completed college and now resides in Texas.
In 2015, she met George Wilson and they were immediately drawn to each other. Their abilities as expert skiers, outdoors junkies, kayakers, and hikers drew them together and on October 1, 2016, they were married in Killington. Nine months later, they received the devastating news that her recent seizure was due to brain cancer. From that day forward, they attempted to do anything and everything she wanted. Mr. Wilson repeatedly told her to “live life on your terms.”
She was an active member of causes that were dear to her. She was the creator and founder of the Madifund, a program that brings top neurosurgeons and other health care professionals from around the country to speak at UVM lectureships. This fund was established in honor and memory of her dear Madison. She was active in the Vermont readiness group with the National Guard and one of the few civilians to be honored by them.
She was one of the creators of the “woodchip” parkway to divert traffic flow on Route 4 during Tropical Storm Irene; was active in the Rutland family support network, parent-to-parent peer recognition, the National Hydrocephalus Foundation, and Mary Kay Cosmetics; and she fundraised for Madi’s room at the new Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge, home to the Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sport center at Pico Mountain.
She leaves her loving husband George Wilson, of Wardsboro; her father Eugene Poplawski, of Mendon; her daughter Tamra Jaurigue, of Texas; her sisters Donna Poplawski-Kreie, of Texas, Denise Wall of Massachusetts, Deonne Myrick, of Randolph, Karen Terry, of Islip, NY, and her brother, E.J. Poplawski, of Salt Lake City. She also leaves her close friends, affectionately known as the Divas, from the Saranac, NY area; numerous families of the heart from around the world; and all her friends and neighbors. Her mother, Barbara Poplawski, died in August 2019,
A memorial service to remember her life will be held at a later date. Gifts in her memory may be made to the Hydrocephalus Association at www.hydroassoc.org. To send personal condolences to the family visit www.sheafuneralhomes.com.