Nature 05

Deborah Kay "Deb" (Hanson) Montagano

July 5, 1957 ~ May 24, 2021 (age 63)

Obituary Image

Life Story

Ms. Deborah Kay “Deb” Montagano, 63, of Elkhart, passed away peacefully within the comfort of her Elkhart home on Monday, May 24, 2021 at 9:50 pm, with much of her family at her side. She had been in frail health.  Deb was born on July 5, 1957 in Elkhart and was raised by her mother, Mrs. Barbara (Robert “Pops”) Adams McMannis of Elkhart, and her step-father Charles Whitmer, Sr., who precedes her in death. Also preceding Deb in passing is a husband, Michael “Mike” Montagano, who died in 2005, and a brother, Michael Hanson.

Deb is survived by her sons Christopher M. “Chris” (Denise) Ward of Elkhart, Keith A. Ward of Elkhart and Joshua T. “Josh” (Holly) Reed of Osceola; step-daughters Amber Montagano and Rebecca (Pete) Mitchell, both of Indianapolis; brothers Edward Hanson and Roger Whitmer, both of Elkhart, and George Hanson, Jr. of Michigan; sisters Barbara Hagy and Elizabeth Vance, both of Elkhart, and Mary (Gene) McBryer of Cumming, Georgia; 8 grandchildren; 7 great grandchildren and a host of loving nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family and good friends.

A celebration of Deb’s life will begin with a viewing on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 from 6-8 pm at Billings Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Elkhart. Then, a funeral service will follow on Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at 11:00 am with visitation beginning one hour prior. Chaplain Neil Davis with the Center for Hospice Care in Elkhart along with Pastor Justin Moore of That Church On The Rise in Elkhart will officiate and burial will follow Wednesday’s services at Sugar Grove Cemetery in Elkhart.

Deb was a “busy woman” who raised three strapping sons to become loving and proud self-proclaimed “mama’s boys”. She doted over them (and then her grandkids, for that matter) and loved them unconditionally. She absolutely loved having her family around, and she supported them by attending literally hundreds of ball games, band concerts, Christmas plays, sporting events and other extra-curricular school activities over the years. In fact, she was such a prolific “mother” that even her work crew down at Heartland RV referred to her as “Mama Deb” because not only did she hoard away snacks and other goodies for her co-workers, but as the company’s safety officer and medical first responder, she kissed all their boo-boos as well. She was loved and revered there for nearly 14 years.

Deb was also a huge shopper and gift-giver, which apparently went well together. She loved to cruise the garage and yard sales, antique shops and outlet malls to find the best deals and then she would gift what she bought to everyone from her kids to her co-workers to school kids that she didn’t even know, just because they needed clothes or shoes or coats.

We mentioned earlier that Deb was a busy woman, and if you haven’t come to that conclusion already, then you probably forgot that she also loved to help out with the concessions, scorekeeping and stats at Osolo and Cleveland Little Leagues, as well as coaching junior bowling and playing on many bowling leagues for nearly 20 years.

Loving, gracious and kind, Deb will be best remembered for her generous and giving nature, her absolutely delightful love for butterflies and for perfecting the “NCIS Gibbs-Slap” (*as seen on TV*) where she would take her cupped palm and smack it against the back of your head if you got caught being stupid. 

In Deb’s honor, memorial donations may be made to the Center for Hospice Care or to Cancer Resources for Elkhart County.


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