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1948 Deborah Ann Garfield Wunnicke 2023

Deborah Ann Wunnicke

August 27, 1948 — August 16, 2023


Deborah Ann Garfield Wunnicke passed away peacefully on August 16, 2023, at age 74. She left us with the twinkle of joy and magic of love that she spread abundantly. For many years Deborah and her family lived with her Alzheimer’s disease, emphasis on “living”. Deborah decided early on that she would continue enjoying her life and “doing the hokey pokey because that’s what it’s all about!” And she did. She would greet strangers and friends alike with the biggest, happiest smile, saying, “I don’t know you, but I love you.”


Born in Chicago, Illinois on August 27, 1948, to Harriet and Milton Garfield, she had two beloved brothers, Robert and David. Deborah’s parents gave her a choice to get Bat Mitzvahed or take dance classes and even though she loved her Jewish heritage, she decided to dance. Deborah was a dancer!


She graduated from Roycemore High School in Evanston, IL, and attended Nasson College in Maine, where she was part of a study abroad program in France, finishing her undergraduate education at Mundelein College in 1971 with a major in English. As a true Virgo, Deborah was an incredible editor and had a way with words, which she expressed prolifically through hundreds of love letters with Bruce.


Deborah met the love of her life, Bruce Edward Wunnicke, in 1973, as she was preparing for a Dance Therapy Master’s program at NYU in New York City. Love brought her to Wisconsin and Bruce and Deborah married on June 15, 1974, at an outdoor ceremony overlooking the Wisconsin River by Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky and Father Thomas Reardon. Soon after in the spring of 1975, daughter, Sara Lilac was born in Avoca, WI. Kathryn Rose was born in the summer of 1984 in Madison. Deborah embraced motherhood, raising her daughters with a spirit of sweetness and joy. She was later blessed with grandchildren she absolutely adored, Alex and Leo Alvarado, and Stella Singh. 


Deborah’s sweetness came with a strong opinion. For 15 years, from 1977-1992, she worked as a Legislative Aide in the Wisconsin Legislature and then as Director of Government Affairs at WHEDA - WI Housing Economic Development Authority. Later she volunteered tirelessly with the Richland County Democratic office where she made lifelong friendships with her co-volunteers.


Mid-career, Deborah was ready for a paradigm shift and began working towards her calling as a Healer. In 1994 she was licensed and Nationally Certified as a Massage Therapist. In 1996 she completed a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work at UW Madison and worked at the Mental Health Center of Dane County for five years before starting a private practice combining her tools of massage and counseling into Integrative Therapy. She continued to explore somatic ways of healing and fell in love with yoga. In 2003, Deborah and Bruce created a yoga and health studio, Stairway To Wellness in Richland Center, WI. It was here that Deborah began teaching Gentle Yoga and in 2009, she completed her Yoga Teacher Training at the Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, MA, and created a magical healing space. Deborah spent many years as a volunteer at PASSAGES, a Program for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She offered her gifts well, was a lifelong learner, and world traveler.


Deborah has been blessed with the help of exceptional caretakers and friends and we are incredibly thankful to Ceil Simonson, Evelyn Claudia Gonzalez, and the loving Krause family and staff at Hope and a Future in Madison.  


Love of family was nurtured by her parents and it was her priority with her own family. Preceded in death by her parents, Harriet Morgan Stern Garfield and Milton Garfield. Deborah is survived by her husband Bruce Wunnicke, Sara (Carlos) Alvarado, Kathryn (Dominik) Singh, brothers Robert Garfield (Sandy Whipple), David (Bonnie) Garfield, grandchildren, Alex and Leo Alvarado, Stella Singh, and much-loved nieces, nephews, and cousins, and her lifelong friend, Susan Mills.


Services to celebrate her life will be held on Saturday, August 19, 2023 at Cress Funeral Home, 6021 University Avenue, Madison, WI, 53705. Visitation at 12:30pm with a memorial service following at 2pm. Guests may wear purple to honor Deborah’s favorite color and the fight to end Alzheimer’s. 


Memorial donations may be made to Hope and a Future, Inc online at and checks can be mailed to Hope and a Future, Inc. 501c3, 1115 S. High Point Rd. Madison, WI 53719.


Please share your memories at

Cress Center

6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406


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

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, August 19, 2023

12:30 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service - Madison - Far West

6021 University Ave, Madison, WI 53705

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service - Madison - Far West

6021 University Ave, Madison, WI 53705

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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