Diann (Petersen) Spear, born Aug. 13, 1945, passed away peacefully at her home in Billings, Montana, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Diann was born to Arthur and Evelyn Petersen of Skokie, Ill. Her early childhood was spent in Skokie living in the house that her grandparents built. When she entered high school, her family moved to Woodstock, Ill., where she made many lifelong friends including the “Fab 7.”
Diann went to college at Miami University of Ohio, where she majored in sociology. She married right out of college and started a family, all the while volunteering and being an activist for the Women’s Liberation Movement and starting a Montessori preschool when her daughter needed a preschool to attend and she couldn’t find one she liked.
Diann lived in Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri and, in 1977, finally settled in Montana. While in Montana, she enjoyed her time working as a librarian and certified legal assistant for years. Finally, in her 50s, Diann got to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a social worker. Dropping everything, she made the courageous decision to reenroll in school to get her master’s degree in social work. She moved to Eastern Washington and spent two years there, graduating with a 4.0. Then she started working her dream jobs with people from all walks of life including teens in crisis, the elderly, and the mentally ill. She retired as a social worker and therapist from the Billings Clinic in 2016. Even while retired, though, she couldn’t walk away from the dream of helping others, and continued to work Fridays and filling in for vacation time at the clinic until COVID forced her to fully retire in 2020.
Diann was a gatherer of people. She always made people feel welcome and accepted at all times. Her positivity and warmth made her someone people wanted to be around. Her friends remember her as the hub of the wheel in every situation. She had many different groups of friends and was amazing at connecting people together. She loved hosting meals and gatherings at her home and gardens as often as possible, creating any reason she could to hold a gathering: pumpkin carving, New Year’s Eve, Oscar night, teas and general get-togethers.
Other favorite things to do included clothes shopping, camping, gardening and, of course, traveling. Her travels took her all over the world, including places like China, Ireland, England, Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Spain. Her next travel goal was to visit Greece. Wherever she went, she always picked up trinkets and memorabilia, and stones or pebbles. She would put her stones in a basket by her bed, which she called her “memory basket,” to remind her of her travels. She couldn’t tell you what kind of rocks she had picked up, but she could tell you all about where they came from and what she experienced.
She left us as she would have wanted: Still being able to work in her yard and leaving her house feet first, toes in the air.
In tribute, we will always make sure our mirrors are clean for you and our gardens are weeded. We love you and will miss you terribly.
She is survived by her brother, Grant (Donna) Petersen, and her three nephews; her daughters, Eryka LaNier and Paige (Richard) Miller; two granddaughters, Alyxandra Miller and Abigail (Joe) Viviano; and many friends too numerous to list.