Diane Dicke, age 90, of Langley, WA passed away peacefully on August 24, 2022 at her home in Langley, Washington, surrounded by family and friends. Born at MacNeal Memorial Hospital in Berwyn, IL to Grant and Virginia Dicke, Diane began her journey in their three-generation family home in Downers Grove, IL. She thrived on the love and attention of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends throughout “The Great Depression” and WWII.
Despite hard times, she enjoyed annual summer road trips to Seattle with her family— visiting extended family and developing a love for the Pacific Northwest. Diane witnessed the “Greatest Generation” in their finest moments and absorbed the values that were to define her life— honesty, enthusiasm, hard work, confidence, perseverance, selflessness and just the right amount of spice. Her devotion to faith, family, community and country never wavered. A born leader, Diane led her childhood friends in whichever direction she was going at the time. From participating in 4th of July parades or planning fireworks shows to organizing a band and backyard talent shows—she was the one with the ideas and the determination to see things through.
Upon entering Downers Grove Community High School, academics became more important to her and she discovered that languages and journalism opened her life to a bigger world. Graduating in 1949, she then went on to receive her B.A. Degree in Modern Language from Lindenwood College in St. Charles, MO where the Chairman of the Language Department described her as “a superior student of foreign languages, including German, French, Spanish and Russian.” Diane then advanced her education by enthusiastically enrolling in the University of Washington School of Business Administration, Seattle, where she earned her M.B.A. in Human Relations and launched her academic career as a Student Advisor in Leary Hall. Upon completion of her graduate degree she moved on to be an Assistant Dean of Women at Lawrence College in Appleton, WI, and the following year the Dean of Women at Westminster College, Salt Lake City, UT.
It was here that she attended an Army recruitment program for students and surprised us all, including herself, by joining the U.S. Army. She instantly knew she’d found a place with opportunities and challenges that would allow her to thrive, and where she hoped she could make a difference. By December of 1961 she’d completed the U.S. Women’s Army Corps W.A.C. Officer Basic Course in Ft. McClellan, AL. Diane’s career with the U.S. Army would span 20 years including assignments at Ft. McClellan, The U.S. Pentagon, The Presidio and Ft. Sheridan. With the geographical moves came furthering her military education at WAC Officer Advanced Training, Armed Forces Staff College and Army War College – all while climbing through the ranks from First Lieutenant to Full Bird Colonel. Diane received high marks with a superior officer stating that “her personal standards are above reproach – she possesses a warm and compassionate personality and is deeply sensitive to the needs and problems of others.” Numerous awards and decorations acknowledge her extraordinary efforts and dedication to a career she loved, including Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal Oak Leaf Cluster (3), General Staff Identification, Who’s Who of American Women, Outstanding Young Women of America and a personal letter of praise for her work from General W.C. Westmoreland, United States Army Chief of Staff.
Upon retirement in June of 1982, Diane returned briefly to her hometown of Downers Grove, IL to be near family where she also added her beloved Chinese Sharpei “Bricke” to her daily routine. In 1987, she and Bricke headed west to Langley, WA, on Whidbey Island, where she would enjoy 35 years. There Diane loved caring for her four-legged friend, celebrating Halloween in a big way, shopping at Choochokam Arts Festival, filling her vase with fresh cut Whidbey flowers, reading from her vast collection of books, visiting with the neighborhood kids and volunteering at the Whidbey Island Fair. She remembered every family birthday, graduation and life event with a personal touch—and each Christmas, for 35 years, sent a large package home to the Midwest that was the highlight of the holiday. Diane also directed her heart and energy to supporting local organizations—including Whidbey Island Dance Theatre, where she LOVED to dance and support opportunities for youth under the anonymous title of “Dance Angel”.
Diane made a mark on this world – through her service to country, generous heart, deep friendships and witty sense of humor. She is survived by her only sister Suzanne D. Matthies (nee Dicke) of Downers Grove, IL; nieces Patricia (Brian) Wilk (nee Matthies) of Sugar Grove, IL, Kimberly (James) Brouch (nee Matthies) of Eagle River, WI and nephew David (Joanna Tomy) Matthies of Downers Grove, IL; grand nieces and nephews Mark Brouch, Jennifer Brouch, Brin Wilk, Grant Wilk, Robert Matthies, PJ Matthies and Augie Matthies; four generations of amazing cousins; and her many special friends and neighbors of Whidbey Island, especially Brian, Sarah and Howard who were there for her all the way. She is preceded in death by her parents, Grant and Virginia Dicke.
Family and friends are invited to attend burial, with full military honors, to be held at Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, WA at 10:30 am (arrive 10:15 am) on November 4, 2022. In lieu of flowers – charitable donations in her memory are appreciated for her favorite Whidbey Island causes:
• W A I F / Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation (https://waif-animals.org/donate/)
• Readiness to Learn Foundation (https://www.readinesstolearn.org/donate)
• Whidbey Island Dance (https://www.widtonline.org/support)