Deborah Rose Waddell-Nicholson

waddell photo

Deborah “Debby” Waddell-Nicholson (nee Smith) passed away at her home on the early morning of
August 24, 2022. In the days and hours leading up to her passing, she was surrounded by her closest
family members and friends.

Debby was born July 21 st , 1954, in Columbus, Ohio. She attended South High School where she ran track
and went on to earn an Associate’s degree in Finance from Franklin University. Although she began her
career in banking, Debby later found her true calling as an early childhood teacher at Columbus
Montessori Education Center (CMEC), where she dedicated almost thirty years of service until her
retirement in May 2018. At CMEC, Debby completed her teacher education and Montessori certification. She believed strongly in the Montessori philosophy of child-led learning and embraced the practice of inclusivity in her classroom. Some of her most rewarding experiences as a teacher involved helping her students, particularly those with special needs, to advance academically and socially. She was a strong advocate for her students and a mentor to many of her colleagues who credit her with helping them to succeed.

Throughout her life, Debby had many creative endeavors which she enjoyed in her spare time. She was
a beautiful singer and sang as a soprano two in the St. Dominic’s Church gospel choir for many years.
She enjoyed gardening, birdwatching, interior decorating, DIY projects, shopping, traveling, learning
Italian, baking, and spending time with friends and family. Debby’s Catholic faith was a tremendous
source of inspiration and comfort to her, especially as she faced illness in her final years. Even as she dealt with her own health struggles, she always found it important to help friends and family members in need. Debby gave in death as she did in life. She was a cornea and tissue donor and hoped to bestow the gift of sight.

Debby is predeceased by her mother, Joyce Smith, father, Stanley Smith, sister, Kathie Hickman, sister,
Stephanie Smith, special aunt, Louise Bridges, and grandmother, Rose Barnet.

She is survived by her daughters Kim (Angelo) Dass, Andrea “Nikki” Ferguson, and Erica Miller, brothers, Gregory “Freedy” (Cathy) Waddell and Kevin Smith, her grandchildren, Victoria “Tori” Ferguson, Bianca Straughter, Roman Dass, Alexandria “Allie” Dass, and Simone Anderson, special cousin, Patty Keaton, her beloved dog, Nikolai, among many other wonderful nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

The United Methodist Church Free Store was an organization very close to Debby’s heart. In lieu of
flowers, please consider a donation to the Free Store or Susan G. Komen For The Cure.

Visitation 10:00 AM and Memorial Service 11:00 AM Tuesday, August 30, 2022 at MARLAN J. GARY FUNERAL HOME, THE CHAPEL OF PEACE EAST, 5456 E. Livingston Ave. (one block east of Noe Bixby, turn North on Lonsdale Rd). To stream the service, read the complete obituary, order flowers, view video tribute and offer condolences to the WADDELL-NICHOLSON Family, visit

Condolence Messages

  1. Marilyn Esannason

    My condolence to the Family
    Debbie I will miss you

  2. The Stone family

    Ms. Debbie taught both of our kids at CMEC, and we are forever thankful for her. She was an amazing teacher and person. We feel so lucky our paths intertwined with hers.

  3. Rest In Peace, Debby. What a beautiful tribute and a beautiful family you shared. We are grateful for your work with young minds at Columbus Montessori. We will remember your kind smile and the love you poured over children.

  4. Debbie was such a sweet and special person. I enjoyed working with her for many years at CMEC. Debby was a saving grace for my special needs son. When everyone else had given up on him, Debby wouldn’t quit. He is 20 now and still remembers her and the impact she made on him. God bless you all at this time. She will remain in the hearts of many!

    • Thank you for sharing, Becca. We remember Jonah and Braeden well. Tell Braeden, Simone says hello. I hope all is well with you and the family.

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