Deborah “Debbie” Lentz led a life of service to deaf and deafblind Minnesotans. Lentz died earlier in July after a short battle with cancer. She was 75 and lived in St. Louis Park.
Lentz graduated Minneapolis Lutheran High School, and then went on to Gallaudet University. She graduated from college in 1972, with a degree in studio arts.
Deaf since birth, Lentz was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 1984. She maintained stable vision for nearly 20 years. After several eye surgeries in 2006 and 2007, she began to experience more blurred vision. In 2009 she lost all vision in one eye and 90 percent in the other.
She worked for 35 years at US Bank before being laid off. She worked with State Services for the Blind’s workforce program and learned Braille and how to use new technologies.
Lentz had a unique second career and was known as the “doctor of dots” for her work to repair Perkins Braillers, operating a repair workshop in her basement. She went to school in Massachusetts to learn how to repair the machines.
Invented in 1951 by a teacher at the Perkins School, the standard Perkins Brailler has 756 parts. Braillers have a dedicated following even though much Braille production is computerized.
In an interview, Lentz described her love of her new work. “I like to do the deep cleaning on the machines,” she said, “and then figure out repairs and adjustments.”
She served the Minnesota DeafBlind Association as president and treasurer. The association received several awards under her leadership.
She also served on the DeafBlind Committee of the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind, which provides guidance to State Services for the Blind. She was active in deaf theater and teaching Sunday school. She was a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church for the Deaf, Spring Lake Park.
She is survived by cousins and many friends.
A celebration of life for Lentz was held in October.
Memorials preferred to the Minnesota DeafBlind Association, 2233 University Ave W, Suite #221, St. Paul, MN 55114.