By Chris Finklein and Jill Baker '95
On a warm Friday morning, Sept. 20, 1974, Dianne Marie Finklein was born in Vancouver, Wash. That bright, blonde-haired little bundle of sheer joy entered the world ready to rock everyone she ever met almost from the first moment she opened her eyes. It was as though she had intentions of packing in nonstop living from the beginning and never stopped. Diva Di or Princess Di, as her family used to call her, grew up in Vancouver attending elementary and junior high school and then Mountain View High school until her family moved in her sophomore year to the north Oregon coast. She graduated from Warrenton High School in June 1992, with honors and high hopes to pursue her college education at Western Oregon University in Monmouth.
In 1996 she graduated from WOU with a degree in American Sign Language (ASL) and aimed to live and work in Maryland devoting herself to working with hearing impaired students. She loved the East Coast and managed to make many friends and leave heart prints especially when the lure of family and a return to the Pacific Northwest loomed too large to ignore. In the summer of 1997 she began working in Portland selling telephone systems and found the attraction of sales and living where the action seemed to thrive infectious. After 18 months, however, the job waned and her hopes of returning to grad school materialized via Oregon State University. She applied for an internship in the residence life program intending to live with students in the residence halls and work her way up and into a hall director’s position.
Within one term her excellence and natural leadership abilities were impossible to ignore, and she was assigned as the hall director for one of the large residence halls on campus. Her term proved so exceptional that at the end of that academic year her peers elected her hall director of the year. The very evening this award was presented she was absent from the assembly due to duties in her hall and a commitment she had made with her students she refused to ignore. Residence life, even with all its demands and intrusions, blossomed in her and she imagined even more immersion into that area of university life as a full time career once grad school was completed.
Early on the morning of January 9, 2001, Dianne suffered a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in her lungs – and passed away most tragically and unexpectedly. Half the university shut down to celebrate her life along with the President himself attending her memorial service and commenting about her brief time at OSU and how she had impacted so many students and staff with her ability to set the world on fire with her joy and passion.
A scholarship has been established at Oregon State University for Residence Life students in Di’s memory and now another is growing for ASL students at WOU. Once the fund has been endowed a $1,000 scholarship will be available every year thereafter.
Di’s mom says it best, “No finer human being ever walked the face of this earth nor managed to touch lives more exquisitely than our Di. She wasn’t perfect, but she never claimed to be either. She was impatient when she saw wrong and never turned away from an opportunity to stretch her belief system. Each of us is on loan to this earth. We have a set amount of time in which to leave our mark. Di’s allotment comprised 26 years, 111 days and 47 minutes. She crammed enormous amounts of living and loving into every single parcel of her existence. If success is determined by those who remember you or who are changed because you were a piece of their life, Dianne Finklein defined the word.”
Silent auction and benefit for Di Finklein Memorial Scholarship
by Jill Baker '95
A silent auction is planned for Feb. 25, 2011. A previous silent auction and benefit dinner took place on May 22, 2010. Anyone interested in making a donation to the auction, or attending the event, should contact Jill Baker ’96 at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, a direct donation to the Scholarship Fund can be made by going to www.wou.edu/giving, please indicate the contribution is for the Di Finklein Memorial Scholarship Fund. Other events to raise funds for the scholarship include a 5K fun run/walk on WOU’s campus Oct. 2 and Midnight Movies at Independence Cinema 8 on Nov. 5. A Facebook page has been established to disseminate information regarding upcoming fundraising events. If you have a story to tell about Di, please post it on the Di Finklein Memorial Scholarship page.