Debra Jean Locastro Cilley, age 67 of Greenfield, NH, passed away peacefully at her home, surrounded by family, on November 2, 2020.
Deb was born a city girl in Auburn, NY on December 26, 1952, the daughter of Richard and Madelyn (Burke) Locastro. As the second oldest of twelve brothers and sisters, Deb grew up in a boisterous household and was exceptionally proud of her Irish-Italian heritage. With her beautiful smile, her quick wit and outgoing personality, Deb was hard to miss even in this crowded house of big personalities.
Deb’s father was a teacher, and academic excellence was the norm in their home. Deb made her mark in both academics and athletics at East High School. She went on to attend college at Geneso State College where she followed in her mother’s medical career path and graduated from the Onondago School of Nursing.
Deb moved to NH in 1983 where the city girl fell in love with countryside and Ray Cilley, whom she married that September. Together, they established lifelong roots in Greenfield and built Spring Pond Farm. After arriving in NH, Debbie pursued her nursing career at Crotched Mountain and Monadnock Community Hospital where she worked for many years. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Deb helped launch the Occupational Health program connecting the hospital to many local employers. Deb was a passionate advocate for MCH and its mission to serve the community. She founded the MCH Fall Foliage Benefit Golf Tournament and volunteered for years to oversee this annual event. She served on the Bond Wellness Center Capital Campaign Committee and was a successful fundraiser.
Deb’s volunteer efforts extended beyond MCH to her Greenfield community. She spent numerous years on the Greenfield Fire and Rescue as well as the Peterborough Ambulance Crew. It was her way to use her nursing skills and give back to the community that she loved.
In 2002 Deb and Ray decided to expand the farm to begin raising alpacas. Debbie was a true animal lover and this venture was a natural fit. She was hands-on at the farm and learned to handle and train the alpacas herself. Deb loved taking their alpacas to shows around the Northeast to compete, which earned them numerous champions within their herd. She also enjoyed spinning and knitting the alpaca fiber into beautiful handmade items for family and friends.
When Deb wasn’t working at MCH or the farm, she had numerous pastimes to keep her busy. An avid athlete, Deb loved softball and golf and she was also a fierce competitor at any card or trivia game. Deb also had a well known passion for travel to sunny locations. In her younger years, she was an exchange student to South America and she traveled to numerous Caribbean Islands. In her later years, she and Ray enjoyed their winters spent in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Throughout her life, Deb had flair for being the life of the party. She had an energy and presence where you just knew when Deb was in the room. It was this passion and zest for life that sustained her throughout her 15 year battle with cancer. It’s a fitting tribute to Deb’s life that the Cilley Healing Garden at MCH was created in her honor. The beautiful garden sits outside the windows of the MCH Oncology Unit where patients are receiving treatment. Deb was an inspiration to many as she faced the challenges of cancer with strength and optimism that gave her a full and rich life. Now, it’s her namesake garden that offers inspiration and comfort to others as they receive life-saving care at the very hospital that Deb loved and supported for so many years.
Deb is survived by her husband of 37 years, Raymond Cilley of Greenfield, her step-sons Mark Cilley and wife Rhonda of Greenfield, NH and Joshua Cilley and wife Jennifer of North Carolina; her grandchildren Emerson, Taylor, Camden and Caden Cilley as well as her 11 Locastro siblings.
A celebration of Deb’s life will be held on Sunday May 30th from 2:00pm - 4:00 at Spring Pond Farm, 81 Muzzey Hill Road, Greenfield, NH 03047.