Laurette D. Chambers, 83, volunteer Red Cross driver

October 06, 2005

Laurette D. Chambers, a former Red Cross volunteer driver who traveled widely, died of pneumonia Sept. 29 at Blakehurst Retirement Community. The former Woodbrook resident was 83.

Born Laurette Debnam in Baltimore and raised in Woodbrook, she was a 1939 graduate of the old Greenwood School. She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Family members said she often accompanied her father, George R. Debnam Jr., a Sun reporter who later built apartment houses in Charles Village, on long car trips.

They traveled to Charles Howard's Ridgewood Ranch near Willits, Calif., and met his fabled thoroughbred Seabiscuit. She also witnessed Seabiscuit's famous match-race victory over War Admiral at Pimlico on Nov. 1, 1938.

On another trip to the West Coast, they visited newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon, where they spent the night when fog made auto travel impossible. Mrs. Chambers later recounted how film star Marion Davies was the dinner hostess.

During World War II, Mrs. Chambers volunteered with the American Red Cross's ambulance corps. She was also a driving instructor for disabled veterans.

She was a longtime trustee of Keswick Multi-Care Center, served two terms as president of the Junior League of Baltimore and was a former president of the Hardy Garden Club.

Several years ago, she accompanied her two grandchildren to Alaska to complete her goal of visiting all 50 states.

Services were held Monday at Glyndon's St. John's Episcopal Church.

In addition to the grandchildren, survivors include a son, William B. Chambers of Woodbrook, and a daughter, Laurette Chambers Duke of Elizabeth, Colo. Her husband of 47 years, Dr. Ewan Buchanan Chambers, an obstetrician, died in 1999.

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