Diane was born on April 6, 1945, to Lizabeth (nee Lawson) and Ronald Rich of Southwest Harbor. She spent her childhood in Southwest enjoying her friends and school activities, picnicking on Sundays, cruising aboard the Whitewinger (a boat built by her father), picking cranberries on Pond Island, ice skating on Long Pond and Echo Lake, and hiking the mountains of Acadia National Park with her family. She met the love of her life, R. Alec Giffen, during her sophomore year of college and married him in Yosemite National Park, California, in 1970.
Diane earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Maine at Orono and later earned a nursing degree from the University of Maine at Augusta. She worked as a psychiatric nurse at Maine General Medical Center, taught fourth and fifth grades in the Manchester and West Gardiner schools, and spent most of her career as the school nurse at Gardiner Area High School — a job that she loved and that brought her great satisfaction. She enjoyed working with the teenagers; she loved their spirit and was compassionate and devoted to their well-being — both physical and emotional. Throughout her career, Diane emulated her childhood heroine, Florence Nightingale, by caring for and helping others. She often spoke fondly of her nursing mission to the Dominican Republic, where she fell in love with the people, their culture, their rich village life, and their way of caring for one another. Diane’s commitment to service continued into her retirement years through her volunteer work at the Cohen Center and Maine General.
Diane cared about people and was friendly, loving and empathetic. Her genuine curiosity and interest in others was disarming, often leading people to reveal their life stories to her, and she to them. Her own challenges made her soft, compassionate and accepting of others.
Diane loved hiking, cross country skiing, knitting, traveling and gardening. She was a master gardener and spent many hours tending her flowers and vegetables. Working in the garden was both her meditation and her art. Highlights of her life included yearly month-long camping adventures to the Rockies, the Sierra Nevadas, and the Cascades with her husband and children. Her greatest passion by far was caring for her family. She gave unending and unconditional love. The hole that Diane’s departure leaves in the lives of her family is immeasurable. She was deeply, deeply loved and will be greatly missed.
Diane is survived by her husband, R. Alec Giffen of Chelsea; her daughter Sarah Giffen Carr, her husband, Matt, and their children, Marne and Reid of Brunswick; son Matt Giffen and his partner Joy Bengtson of Pittston; sisters Judy DeBray and her husband, Bill DeBray, of Richmond, and Linda Smith of Hancock; sisters-in-law Laina Clugston and her husband, Rick Clugston, of Freeport, and Marne Snyder and her husband, Bob Snyder, of Wakefield, R.I. She was greatly loved by her large, extended family of Richs, Lawsons and Giffens.
A memorial service and life celebration will be held in a landscape she loved, 23 Togus Road, Chelsea, Maine, on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, at 2 p.m., rain or shine (a tent will be provided). All are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating or volunteering in Diane’s memory to the following organizations that she cared about: Safe Passage of Yarmouth, Maine; the Sierra Club, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Cohen Center of Hallowell, Maine.