Diane G. Peterson

SOUTH PORTLAND – Diane G. Peterson, 79, died on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, after living several years with Alzheimer’s disease. She was surrounded by her loving family.

Diane was born in Portland on August 11, 1941, the daughter of Francis C. O’Donnell and Gladys M. (Baker) O’Donnell. She attended local schools and graduated from South Portland High School in 1959. Diane continued her education at Gorham State Teachers College (now University of Southern Maine), earning a B.S. in 1963. A lifelong learner, Diane later received an MBA with a concentration in healthcare management from Husson College.

On June 16, 1962, Diane married the love of her life, Everett “Pete” W. Peterson Jr., in Portland. They moved to South Portland shortly thereafter, where they raised their five children. Diane’s beloved Pete passed away in 2012, just a few months before their 50th wedding anniversary, and she missed him dearly.

Diane began her career as an elementary school teacher in Scarborough and South Portland schools. After taking time off from outside work to raise her children, Diane steered toward a profession in healthcare administration, where she found her passion, particularly in the area of cancer research. At the time of her retirement in 2012, Diane was lead Cancer Registrar at Mercy Hospital in Portland.

Diane took great delight and pride in having a large family. She played an active role in the lives of her five children and, later, those of her 16 grandchildren, to whom she was known affectionately as “Dinah.” (Although COVID prevented her from getting to know her young great-grandchildren, nothing warmed her heart more than to see their photos.) A fourth-generation summer resident of Peaks Island, Diane ensured that her children and grandchildren enjoyed the full summer experience at her cottage there, passing down her love of her special place.

Diane had a wide variety of hobbies, including reading, knitting and solving any crossword or brain-teaser puzzle thrown her way. She was also very social, regularly participating in book clubs and similar groups. Until its closing, Diane had been a lifelong communicant of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in South Portland, serving for many years there as a Eucharistic Minister. She later worshipped at St. Maximilian-Kolbe Church in Scarborough. Diane was involved in several charitable activities; most recently, she worked in community outreach for melanoma prevention and with the South Portland Food Cupboard, until her Alzheimer’s disease prevented her from continuing with such endeavors.

In addition to her husband, Pete, Diane was predeceased by both of her parents.

She is survived by three daughters, Cynthia Card (Doug) of Bridgton, Kathleen Austen (Doug) of Londonderry, N.H., and Karen Peterson (Kevin) of Peaks Island, two sons, William Peterson (Molly) of Philadelphia and Eric Peterson (Katherine) of Biddeford; 16 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren (with two more on the way); many cousins; three sisters-in-law; and several nieces and nephews.

The family wishes to express its sincere gratitude to all who helped care for Diane and exercised patience with her following the onset of her Alzheimer’s disease. For Diane’s closest caregivers, words can barely convey the depth of thankfulness we feel for the love you showed Diane the last couple of years, enabling her to live her best life possible.

Visiting hours celebrating Diane’s life will be held Tuesday, August 3, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Conroy-Tully Walker South Portland Chapel, 1024 Broadway, South Portland. Prayers will be recited for family at the funeral home on Wednesday, August 4, at 9:45 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at St. Maximilian-Kolbe Church, 150 Black Point Rd., Scarborough. Burial will be private. To view Diane’s memorial page, or to share an online condolence, please visit http://www.ConroyTullyWalker.com

In lieu of flowers, those who wish to make contributions in Diane’s memory may do so by donating to the following organization:

The South Portland Food Cupboard,

130 Thaddeus St.,

South Portland, ME 04106.

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