Debra R. Messer

Bar Harbor

After a long struggle with dementia, Debby Messer died on Nov. 2, 2020. She was born Nov. 20, 1950, in Baltimore, Md., to Charlotte and Charles “Jack” Norinsky.

She graduated from Milford Mill High School in Baltimore, went to the University of Maryland, where she received a BA in Education in 1975, and then to The Johns Hopkins University where, in 1980, she earned an MS, also in education. In 1984, she married Vincent C. Messer. They were happily married for 36 years. Debby is survived by her son, Jordan Messer of Portland; and two sisters, Judy Rosenberg of Baltimore and Joan Slack of Palm Beach, Fla.; several nieces, nephews and grand-nieces and nephews.

Debby taught at Hammond High School in Howard County, Md., for 32 years before retiring to move with Vince to Mount Desert Island, a place she loved deeply. She taught English and for the last 10 years of her career directed that school’s Gifted and Talented Resource Program. She was honored as Howard County (Md.) Teacher of the Year in 1998. Debby dedicated her entire career to education. When she came to Maine, she started a small tutoring practice helping students of all ages to enhance their skills in reading, writing, speaking and other related subjects.

Debby was dedicated to her Jewish faith and was a member of the Beth El Congregation in Bangor. She founded Coastal Jews, an informal organization whose goal is to bring together members of the Jewish Community on and around MDI for prayer, study and discussion.

A small, private memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, at Beth El Synagogue, Bangor. The service will be broadcast on Zoom and is open to all. The Zoom link is Condolences to the family may be expressed at Those who would like to honor Debby’s memory in a special way may make contributions to The Association for Frontotemporal Dementia (

Know when to pay your respects.