Deborah Livengood with one of her grandchildren. Photo courtesy of Allison Hopkins

If you asked multiple people how to describe Deborah Livengood, you would likely get a different – but unwaveringly impressive – answer each time: “artistic visionary,” “the best nana” and “my favorite teacher” are a few.

For her family, one of these descriptors is “bonding agent.”

“I think she really instilled a value of family and closeness,” said James Livengood, her son. “She’s just such an amazing person that we all wanted to be near.”

On Sunday, a truck hit Livengood while she was walking down Swett Road in Windham. The driver was a 16-year-old male who police said was likely distracted. They have not identified the driver or said whether he will be charged.

Livengood died from her injuries on Tuesday. She was 74.

She is survived by her husband, William, and her three children: James, Chris Livengood and Allison Hopkins.


“She was a bonding agent in the family,” Chris Livengood said. “We’re all branches on the family tree. We all connected to her at the center, and that center is not here.”


Deborah Livengood taught art in the Windham school district for over 40 years, from January 1972 to June 2013. Over the course of her career, she taught at all different levels, ranging from elementary school to high school.

Windham Superintendent Christopher Howell served as Windham Middle School’s assistant principal during Livengood’s tenure and remembered her remarkable skill and passion.

“She was an absolutely outstanding art teacher who could bring out the creative side in all of her students,” he said. “She was a fierce advocate for the arts to make sure that every student had a high-quality art experience, whether that be in art or music or other applied arts.”

Even after her retirement, Livengood’s impact could be felt throughout the district, Howell said. She was especially vocal about making sure that a place would be carved out for the arts at the new Windham Middle School, advocating for a top-notch art program with facilities to support it.


Windham resident Mark Cobb first met Livengood as a student. He recalls her teaching style as being uniquely energetic and creative – a style that made her “able to really connect with pretty much everybody.”

“She’s that person that’s full of energy and has an amazing aura around them – when they walk in the room, they’re just a walking smile,” Cobb said.

Livengood’s impact as an educator stretched beyond her students to her own children. Not only did Chris, Allison and James all become teachers, but they also all ended up teaching, at one point or another, in the same district as their mom.

“We all kind of gravitated back towards her,” said her daughter, Allison Hopkins.


Livengood’s knack for connecting with students wasn’t the only thing that made her a great art teacher. She was also an incredibly gifted and dedicated artist who floated among different mediums with ease.


She was an adept painter, excelling at both watercolor and oil. She spent hours painstakingly detailing Ukrainian eggs, wearing multiple pairs of glasses to magnify her infinitely small designs. Once, she created an image of Noah’s Ark by making tiny, intricate cuts to a piece of paper – a process called scherenschnitte.

“She just had so much patience with everything that she did,” Hopkins said.

According to the Livengoods, her magnum opus is their backyard garden – a design all her own, down to every flower and brick.

“She really was kind of a visionary in the sense that she saw something in the landscape that didn’t exist and she made it exist,” James Livengood said.

The Livengoods’ backyard garden, designed by their mother. Courtesy of Allison Hopkins

Often, Livengood’s artistic inclination was to share her craft with the people she loved. Her children remember fondly the “extremely elaborate and detailed” Halloween costumes she made by hand, which she always started in the summer in order to perfect them by October.

“They were tailor made to our desires, and they were always just perfect,” Chris Livengood said.



Livengood’s loved ones will remember her for her character. They say she was good to the core and unafraid to tell people what they needed to hear.

“She treated everyone with kindness and with patience,” James Livengood said. “She really was honest and truthful with everybody.”

Livengood’s commitment to her family was something that never wavered. Allison Hopkins has two young daughters, Emily and Charlotte, whom Livengood took care of every single day. Her dream was to see her grandchildren graduate from college, so she walked 5 miles each day to maintain her health and fitness.

“She was my best friend, and she was the best nana,” her daughter said. “I’m so grateful that (my children) had such a wonderful influence.”

The Livengood family. Courtesy of Allison Hopkins

Livengood’s compassion also extended to the animals in her life. When her pet chickens – both of which she rescued – were attacked by another animal, she did everything she could to nurse the surviving chicken’s broken wing back to health.

“I have pictures of her sitting out on her patio in the garden with the chicken sitting on a blanket next to her,” her husband said, laughing.

Livengood’s loved ones say this story, and the countless others like it, encapsulate her most fundamental trait: the deep and abiding love she held for the world around her.

“I think she just really valued life and wanted to see everything thrive, whether it was through her family, through nature or gardens, or through her creations,” Chris Livengood said.

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