Diana always had a love of all things from India as well as Native American culture of the Southwest, She was a docent for the Southwest Museum and collected art, books, pottery and baskets from our indigenous Southwest people and culture. She travelled to many areas throughout California and Mexico especially the Anza Borrego desert and she once insisted that my wife Coralie and I trek down the Anza Borrego trail for a wonderful holiday spent in the hills of northern Mexico. On the way back we stopped at
a remote village. It was well off the beaten path and looked very unwelcoming with bandilero-wielding men seriously standing guard. Diana was unappreciative of any danger and only wanted to know where the local people’s authentic baskets and pottery might be for sale understanding the power of their art. They were very unimpressed! But that was just another testament to her unwaivering reverence for the inclusivity of all cultures.
After reading many books on India Diana finally went there and travelled across India mostly by train by herself. She developed wonderful relationships with several people from India over her lifetime. Her granddaughter now lives and studies in Mumbai, India. She loved the sitar based music of Ravi Shankar and others and developed a profound knowledge and skill for Indian and East Asian cooking. She even
opened a Burmese restaurant on the west side called Road to Mandalay. I think that was the movie title starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, a movie that both our parents were waiting to see when they met in Seattle. The restaurant was almost a success as it became known to travelers between UK and Australia and New Zealand. Her cooking was marvelous but as restaurants come and go it went as fast as city inspectors wanted it to go. My wife and I got to see the kitchen which looked very much like an authentic
Indian village kitchen. We did get dragged into bussing tables there on a few occasions without tips of course (Diana’s frugalness would have made her Scottish ancestors proud) but we always loved Diana’s Indian dinners there and at her house. I wish she had written a cook book on her skills but instead she spent her writing time for school children’s books.
Growing up Diana would read me children’s books and taught me how to read before I entered first grade. My earliest recollection of Diana was she was always carrying books to and from the library. Our grandmother would send books from Canada and Diana would spend hours with them and explain the contents to me.
One day in 1946 our cousin Edgar Whitcomb returned from the World War II and the Pacific to our house in Vallejo. Over a few days he told us the stories that he would later write books about how he escaped from Corregidor and spent years evading the Japanese until he was captured in the Philippines. Diana was mesmerized by these stories and would retell the stories to her girlfriends at her school who were children of US Navy personnel from the Philippines who along with our father also worked at Mare Island
Naval shipyard for the Navy. Diana always stayed close with her girlfriends and kept in contact with them for most of her life. She also travelled to the Philippines to embrace their culture.
Diana was always protective of me as my big sister who could break up a fight I was in or help me find something I’d left on the playgrounds or hide from our father who was certain to give me a beating when I most probably deserved it. But it was her going off to college at UC Davis that influenced me more than anything else. I probably would not have thought about going to college at that time if not for Diana’s influence. She had more influence on my life than either of our parents did. My father taught me how to
hunt, fish and box, and my mother taught me how to always try to be friendly but Diana taught me how to escape the confinement of a town like Vallejo to travel, to meet and enjoy other peoples engage their lifestyles and learn to love them. One day she told me I was going back to San Francisco where I was born and meet the love of my life, which I did.
She will be missed profoundly by me but never forgotten.