Diane passed away Feb. 14, 2020 at her Orcas Island home surrounded by her family and her many friends. Diane is survived by her three children, Debbie, Bill and Jennifer, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Diane was born Jan 21, 1937 in Detroit, Michigan to Helen and Don Gehrke. She was an only child.
Diane met her future husband, Bill James while at Church Camp when they were both 13, and on March 8, 1956 they married. The family moved to So California in 1962 and in 1967 moved to the community of Westlake Village, where they raised their three kids. The James house was where all the kids hung out and Diane was considered a second mom by all the kids.
Diane worked at State Farm for 23 years and after retirement in 1997, Diane and Bill moved up to Orcas Island, Washington where Jennifer was raising her family. Some of Diane’s closest friends on Orcas were from the aerobic/exercise class she started at the Orcas Island Community Church, that met every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. She loved to have tea parties at her home after class with her friends and never missed an opportunity to have dinner gatherings with her family.
Diane loved to garden, and had the most beautiful garden full of colorful flowers, fruit trees and a vegetable garden. Another favorite pastime was painting. In her younger years, she enjoyed painting on canvas with oils, and while living on Orcas Island, she would paint birdhouses that her husband Bill would make. You may see them hanging from a tree, or along a fence around the Island. She also loved animals, especially her dogs. Her daughter-in-law would jokingly say, “when I die, I want to come back as Diane’s dog!”
Diane had so many wonderful and caring friends, and that was obvious in her final days. Diane was a loving wife, mother and friend, and will be greatly missed by all.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in her name to, American Cancer Society, or her church, Orcas Island Community Church, or the Hospice of the Northwest, which took amazing care of Diane in her final days (along with her loving caregivers).
Diane’s celebration of life (as she requested) is tentatively planned for April 25, 2020 at her church, OICC. Details will be provided at a later date.