Diane Gudrun (Lemke) Jungwirth, named after her beloved mother, came into this world like a firecracker with much fanfare on Sept. 20, 1955. She won the prize at Shawano Hospital in Shawano, WI for being the largest baby, weighing in at 11 pounds 12 ounces; all of which seemed at times to be solid muscle and mirth. She was a bright, strong willed, adorable force to be reckoned with, there was no doubt about it. Diane was the fifth child of six strong willed children born to Kenneth and Lydia Gudrun (Moum) Lemke. She started out life in a 70 year old farmhouse outside of Cecil, WI. built by her great grandfather, Julius J. Lemke and extensively remodeled by her Professional Engineer father. Early on it became apparent that Diane’s personality was large, going beyond the mere mortal outlines of her body and could fill any room she was in, like water filling every crevice. She entertained us. Her laugh was easy and we willingly entered into her humorous take on an ordinary world, captivating us with her words and her spot on delivery. We were her captive audience totally unprepared for whatever she might say or do. When she did something or said something over the top, we would smile and say, “that’s Diane!” She was an eye-wide-open life adventurer, the rest of us more timid ones closed our eyes, hung on tight and hoped for the best, marveling at her tenacity, bravery, and nerve.
Just down the road from the farmhouse, seven year old Diane arrived at the little one roomed schoolhouse on the country bus one breezy Autumn day and decided that it was the day to turn her ordinary life into something extraordinary. There was no turning back. Her blue button-up cardigan sweater was transformed that day into a sweater the movie-star ”Ginger” from Gilligan’s Island would have worn. Diane draped it around her shoulders like a mink stole, exposing her little blue and green plaid dress. Diane, sitting at the school table with the three other second graders positioned her body into a movie star pose with her chin resting on her shoulder, blonde ponytail bobbing and batting her beautiful, brown eyes much to the chagrin of the no-nonsense teacher, a Phd fresh out of serving in the Peace Corps in Africa. The whispered excitement of her three fellow second graders grew into audible sounds of “Diane looks like a movie star”. “Diane’s a movie star.” Diane was told to button up her sweater and to sit up straight. While Diane and her classmates practiced writing “the cat sat on the hat” and other similar sentences, the movie star quietly, secretly made quick appearances, much to the delight of her adoring fans, whenever the teacher wasn’t looking. The next day the movie star returned with a red movie-star sweater. Diane had quickly realized that amazingly all of her sweaters were movie-star sweaters, increasing her wardrobe options. Snazzy sunglasses completed her transformation that day which helped make her grand entrance into the little one room schoolhouse even more grand...”Little House on the Prairie” met Hollywood’s famous “Red Carpet”. The sunglasses didn’t last long as the whole school, twelve students in grades 1-4 ( minus one...her fourth grade sister who knew better), now joined in the chorus...”Diane is a movie star.” After telling Diane numerous times to take off the sunglasses and put them away, the exhausted teacher surely must have realized that a small second grader with sunglasses seemed to have control of the entire school (minus one... her fourth grade sister who knew better). PhD or no PhD, it was true. Taking back control, the teacher quieted the students and the glasses were taken away...forever. Not one to be easily deterred, defined or limited by her environment or circumstances, Diane realized that despite all, she could still batt her eyes and the show could go on and so it did. From second grade in the one roomed schoolhouse to third grade in Manitowoc to 5th grade in Oshkosh where she graduated in 1973 from Oshkosh West, it was an interesting adventure and Diane was in the driver’s seat.
Kayaking, golfing, bicycling, pickleball, skiing and yoga were a few of her favorites that kept her active and strong. She found absolute peace in nature, particularly hikes through the woods with Tom or friends, while marveling at every full moon and sunset. Diane had many creative talents including knitting, crocheting and sewing, generously sharing her finished gifts. She had a quick wit, was a voracious reader; loved birds, gardening, good food, and anything Downton Abby. Sometimes she watched dressed in full Downton Abby garb with her cohorts, politely drinking a proper cup of tea. No movie-star sunglasses because the Queen would never have approved.
Bees whispered to Diane of their perilous plight and captured her attention. She’d talk passionately and authoritatively about the importance of “saving the bees” by simple actions such as increasing nectar plants to pollinate and eliminating insecticides. She proudly wore clothes sprinkled with bees and her only tattoo was a tiny bee on her ankle. Diane knew the world couldn’t be the same without bees just as we knew the world couldn’t be the same without her.
Above all else, Diane loved her family. She loved being a mom and “Gramma Nonnie“ to her four precious grandsons. Diane would have said her greatest and most important achievement was her family. Their love and devotion was the very core of her being and sustained her through life’s challenges. Being motherless herself from the age of four years, Diane knew and appreciated the enormous impact a nurturing mother could have on her children and so she lovingly strived to give them the childhood she never had. Diane had a full wonderful life that she filled to the brim with family, friends, meaningful work and most of all love. She fiercely embraced her life and had hopes of living a youthful active life in the many years ahead. But, it was not to be. The ravages of Glioblastoma IV brain tumor were swift and unforgiving, the firecracker was silenced. Amazingly, Diane’s sense of humor and her love and concern for her loved ones remained to the very end, her final gift.
Diane will be forever missed and remembered with a smile and great love by her two children: Renee (Mike) Allen, Mark (Melissa) Jungwirth and their children Jacob and Casey Allen, and Charlie and Archie Jungwirth; Loving partner Tom King who adored her and stood stedfast by her through even the darkest hours; Tom’s children Blythe (Dave) Thews, Leah (Waldner) Saint Fort, Robert (Amanda) King, and Riley (Jill) King. She was lovingly referred to as “Grannie D” by Tom’s grandchildren, whom she loved as her own; Veda and Grant Saint Fort, Layla and Syler King, and Alex, Nolan and Theodore King. Siblings: David (Donna) Lemke, Mark (Charko) Lemke, Kathy (Jeff) Western, step sister Karen (John) Binkowski, and many nieces and nephews and their families. She will be greatly missed by her Yorkie Simon, who she found great delight in spoiling. She was preceded in death by her parents and older sisters Mary and Susan. Per Diane’s wishes, her remains have been cremated and a private family memorial will occur later in the summer.
Memorials, if desired, would be appreciated in Diane’s memory to The Honey Bee Conservancy https://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/ or the American Cancer Society https://www.cancer.org/