Classmate Biography

Rio Linda Senior High School - Rio Linda, CA - Class of 1971

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Debra Farris Winters

Originally written July 6, 2001
Last updated July 6, 2001



After graduation, I attended community college for about 2 weeks! Evening classes, of course, due to a GREAT JOB that a friend, (future husband) helped me get that was 44 miles one way to work. I couldn't keep up - call me a wuss! I chose the easy way, or so I thought, decided to work and forego the formal education. Poor choice!

Love Life

Kent McKenzie and I dated the last part of our senior year and on through the summer until he went away to college. We kept in touch and saw each other a couple of times when he came home on breaks but we drifted apart.

Greg Post (RLSH graduate of '68 and brother of Sandy Post) and I dated off and on the beginning of our senior year. He's the one that got me an application at Rancho Seco. We were friends but didn't date again until September 1972. January 13, 1973, we married. He's a good person but we both made some wrong choices. Getting married was one of them. We separated in April and I moved to Portland, Oregon for a fresh start in September of 1973. Our divorce was final in December of 1973. Fortunately, there were no children.

I met Neil Winters when I first came to Portland. We worked together and became friends but did not date until late August of 1974. Once we stepped over the "just friends" line, we were inseparable and married May 2, 1975. We have had our times, like most couples, but Neil is my very best friend and we just celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. Neil is a truck driver for Albertsons Distribution Center and has been there for 13 years. He has been a truck driver for most all of his adult life.


I went to work for Bechtel Corporation at Rancho Seco in July of 1971 as a roving secretary/vacation fill-in. By the time I left in March of 1973, I had worked my way up into a position in the bookkeeping department and replaced a gentleman in charge of his own little portion of it. It truly was a GREAT JOB for a Great Company, especially for right out of high school. The pay wasn't too shabby either! I worked for a couple of other companies here in Portland and quit to have our children in May 1976. In 1982, I went to work for Portland Public Schools as an educational assistant part time. I did that for four years and decided it was time to start earning some benefits. I went to work for PPS as a sub secretary for 3 1/2 months and was hired as a school secretary in an elementary school. I did that job for 9 months and was promoted to a head secretary/office manager in a one girl office. I worked at that elementary for four years and transferred to a middle school (Junior High) in charge of four other secretaries, a student body of 1,000, a staff of 96 and stayed there four years. Tired of the politics, I quit the district to become a financial planner. I went back to school and became licensed in Securities, Home Loan Consolidations, Life, Health and Property/Casualty Insurance. I did financial planning for about 4 years and decided that I do not enjoy sales. I gained a great deal of knowledge and learned things I wish I would have known about finances 20 years sooner. I tried a couple of other areas such as a Director of Medical Records for Adventist Rehab (decided I didn't like learning medical terminology and abr., a whole new language). So...I went back to what I do best, the schools. I went to work for Reynolds School District (much smaller district and close to home) in August of 1998 as the head secretary at H. B. Lee Middle School. We have 850 students, 5 secretaries and a staff of 90.


Neil and I love to travel. Our businesses have allowed us to travel a little around the United States for conferences and for fun. Neil is from Nebraska, so over the years we have made numerous trips back to visit family (driving in our younger years but now we're into flying). Last year we were in Orlando, FL twice. We have been to Atlanta, GA; St. Louis, MI; Las Vegas, NV (several times, we love it and we're not gamblers); Reno and Lake Tahoe, NV; and our favorite vacation place is Hawaii. We love to swim, snorkel and we even went scuba diving off of Oahu. We took the kids to Disneyland several times over the years and we still love it. Neil is working on getting his pilots license and our next major purchase will be a plane (some day), so we can go where we want, when we want. Well, short hops anyway.

The biggest adrenaline rush of my life so far, was a couple of weeks ago when Neil, Jamie, Jared and I went sky diving together. WOW,what an experience! I wanted to experience what my child has fallen in love with.....unbelievable!


This has probably been the hardest section for me to put into words. I try to find the positive in all things. Life is so full of choices, feelings of gratification and let downs, joys and sorrows, hopes and dreams. The choices that we have made over our life time are all a part of who we are. Even the wrong choices help make us who we are today. I thank God for who I have become and all the many blessings that he has given to me and also what he has allowed me to share of myself with others. I am proud of my husband and my children and who they are, who they have become and the part I have shared in their lives. I not only love them, I really like them - they are great people and my hero's.


Neil and I bought our first home, a 14' X 70" mobile home in January 1975 and parked it in Estacada, OR until we sold it in July of 1977. We then moved to Portland and rented a house for a year until we knew where we wanted to buy (or more likely where we could afford). We bought our first house in July of 1978 about a mile and a half from our rental. It was a 1 1/2 year old, 3 bedroom ranch style to be our starter house. Well, the 2-5 years we were going to stay there turned into 18 1/2 years. In September of 1996, we bought our current home in Fairview. It's new, twice the size of our last house and exactly 1/4 mile from our drive way to the boat launch on the Columbia River. When we bought it, we were planning on retiring here BUT...things are constantly changing.

Family Life

Neil and I have three children. We have raised his daughter, Amy together. She was four when Neil and I started dating and is now 31, with two children of her own. Samantha, who is 7 and Jacob, who is five years old. Through choices of her own, we have not seen them for four years. Our daughter, Jamie was born on May 13, 1976 and our son Jared was born November 3, 1977. Jamie and Jared are both very beautiful people, inside and out. Through the years, we have tried to expose the three of them to lots of different activities. They are all great swimmers (after years of lessons at the YMCA) and lots of summer fun: rafting on the rivers, camping at the lakes, boating/skiing and our own swimming pools. They've played the sports and competed in many. Amy played softball and was on the high school dance team. Jamie has done gymnastics, played high school basketball, cheer leading, golf and her power sport was soccer in high school. She was student body president her senior year and involved in leadership all through high school. She attended Oregon State in Corvallis and quit the year my dad past away. Jamie works for a financial corporation dealing with UCC Forms. She has recently started back to college. Jared is our extremely physical child. In school, he competed in Basketball, gymnastics, BMX racing and wrestling. His power sport was soccer and he was MVP his last two years. Jared was also involved in the leadership classes in high school and plays the saxophone. His favorite past time now is skydiving (he goes at least once a week, more when the weather permits and he can get off work early enough), snowboarding in the winter and wake boarding behind the boat in the summer. He's our real dare devil and looking forward to Neil getting his pilots license (he's working on that now) so they can go up together. Jared is a journeyman supervisor and lays hard wood floors for a living.

My parents moved to Lyle, Washington the winter of 1979 with my brother. My sisters moved up this way soon after. They have all spread out from Seattle to Portland and east to Dallesport, WA over the years. My sister Carol is the only one that has moved back to California. She recently married her high school sweetheart Ron O'Kinga. My father passed away of pancreatic cancer in April of 1995. My mom is living in her own home across the street from my brother Gary and his family in Dallesport, WA. She had a heart attack in November of 1977 and has had various health problems since. We are thankful she can still be on her own at 85 years old and is a very independent woman, busy with her senior citizens group.

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