By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
Debra Aynes was a staple at Deb and Donna’s Diner. Her outgoing, friendly personality endeared her to customers. Deb was a rock, always smiling, encouraging, providing Sunday dinners and helping anyone she knew who had a need.
Deb, 51, died in the early morning of July 31, 2010, after Robert Jones, 56, entered The Diner with a revolver and a semi-automatic handgun and shot her before turning the gun on himself. Deb had broken up with him just days before.
Donna Cantrell, friend and co-owner of the diner, remembers Deb’s vibrant energy. The two had been best friends for 20 years and worked together at a declining restaurant before opening The Diner 14 years ago.
Pam Rector, a loyal customer, kept coming back to Deb and Donna’s for the family atmosphere and remembers Deb’s sense of humor. Pam would look up from eating to see Deb peeking through the window in the kitchen door, making silly faces at diners.
Kelly Shannon recalled Deb’s love for everyone she touched.
“She was like a mother to me,” Kelly said. “She was a good best friend.”
With her unsurpassed love for her children and grandchildren, Deb was the glue that held her large family together.
Losing her business partner and friend has created a hole in Donna’s life. Deb and Donna consulted each other on business decisions. More than a month after Deb’s death, Donna would still forget that Deb was gone and would pick up the phone to call her.
Steve Lay, a local minister and regular patron at the diner, spoke to a crowd of more than 300 at a candlelight vigil soon after Deb’s death.
“Debbie (Aynes) provided us all a place of ease, safety and comfort,” Lay said, gesturing toward the diner behind him. “It is a shame it wasn’t that to her.”