Diane Irwin, age 75, of Bellingham, passed away May 8, 2014. Daughter of Fredrick Douglas and Grace (and Floyd) Paxton, Diane was born in Okanogan, Wash.
Her father was a “newspaper man,” and following her birth the family moved to San Francisco, where his family and career were based. After he joined the Merchant Marines, she moved back to Oroville, Wash. to live with her grandmother and attend school.
Fond memories of this time included collecting aluminum scraps to aid the war effort; saving nickels to attend endless double features and watch news reels; and skipping school on a dare with her good friend to climb the sheer rock face that towers over Oroville to the west, — never dwelling too long on the rescue that brought the town out to watch, or the punishment that followed.
Diane had a friendly and engaging personality that charmed everyone who knew her. By the time she moved to Yakima with her mother and stepfather to attend high school, she had received no less than four proposals of marriage. She became a “song leader” and worked summers as a life guard. Both activities instilled life-long skills. She offered generous encouragement to all and several children owe their lives to her constant vigilance at the water’s edge.
Graduating from Yakima High in 1956, Diane went on to study at WSU, known then as WSC. She pledged Gamma Phi Beta and majored in Interior Decorating, one of the few “accepted” degrees open to women at that time.
In 1958, Diane married her high school sweetheart and best friend, Jere. Over the next twenty-five years, they raised five daughters together. Her multi-tasking abilities were legendary and she was an extraordinary homemaker and mother. During this time, Diane and Jere built a number of businesses together, including Irwin Research. In the early years, Diane supported their endeavors by working in a bank, and later at Boise Cascade as a bookkeeper. Their success was due in great part to her work, loyalty, determination (stubbornness), and uncanny intuition.
Following her marriage, Diane moved to Seattle and embarked on her next career in real estate. She owned rental properties, but her real talent lay in renovating houses. Buyers often requested all furnishings as part of the sale. Diane was an artist whose canvas extended to her homes and gardens. She wove her magic with color, texture and art, filling each and every place with love, laughter and style. Wherever she lived, Yakima, Seattle, Vashon, or Bellingham, her family found “home.”
Diane traveled extensively, supporting the arts everywhere she went. Her love of beauty and eye for a bargain never failed. A spectacular “find” was a matter of course. Yet, her greatest treasure and joy in life always and forever remain — her children and grandchildren.
Diane is preceded in death by her parents and her beloved son, Gregory Michael Irwin. She is survived by her five daughters and their families: Marchal Tyler; Jennifer Irwin and grandson, Lucas; Amber and Eli Moreno, granddaughter Stasha and grandson Alex; Angie and Kevin Cradock, granddaughter Finnuala and grandson Caimin; Brook Irwin and Jason Horner, and grandson Nolan; Her brother, Ande Paxton, and his daughter Haleigh; and numerous nieces and nephews along with countless individuals who found their way into her heart and care.
Our beautiful, unforgettable mother was laid to rest with a small graveside service in Oroville. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to your local Women’s Shelter, a service Diane supported faithfully.