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Diann L. Stewart

April 21, 1940 ~ April 20, 2022 (age 81)

Obituary

Diann Lee Stewart was born in Long Beach, California on April 21, 1940 to the late Jonathan Andrew Stewart, II and the late Addie Bell (Rose) Stewart. Six years later, she became the beloved sister–and part-time second mother–of the late Jonathan Andrew Stewart, III (to whom she lovingly referred to as “Jackie”).

 

Diann was bitten by the theater bug at an early age, even graduating with a degree in Drama from Long Beach State University. During that time, while not busy studying or performing, Diann was busy participating in local beauty pageants (upon her mother’s request) and working as a Tour Guide at Disneyland, one of her favorite jobs of all time. Upon graduating from college, Diann entered United Airlines Stewardess School in 1963 and found a passion beyond the stage.

 

Diann left behind flying in 1965 to get married and have her two children, Scott Kunkle (born August 21) and Laura Stewart (born November 21—Diann said, “No more kids…I can’t hit that date {the 21st} again!) For the following 10 or so years, she was happily content to be a stay-at-home mom and pursue various volunteer positions, but as the kids got older, Diann became a bit restless and the stage called to her again. Around the year 1978, Diann found a new theatrical home with Monmouth Players located in Navesink, New Jersey. She absolutely thrived onstage, leading in most Neil Simon plays, as well as other favorites such as “Steel Magnolias,” “Love Letters,” and “Company” to name a few.

 

In 1988 upon her divorce, Diann once again retired from the stage, but regained her wings by becoming a Corporate Flight Attendant. She had the distinct pleasure of attending to the rich and famous (as well as the very rich and not so famous). She met many personalities during her near 20 year career, most of whom she liked, though there were some she admittedly did not. She took pride in her job and loved the ability to travel all over the world (in her later years, she said she would just lay on the couch with her eyes closed and relive those trips in her memory over and over again).

 

Diann (and Laura) moved to PA in 1997 following Scott’s move a few years prior. Diann still continued to fly out of Teterboro Airport in New Jersey (the drive was actually a bit easier from PA), but also found time to work her way back onstage whenever possible. Her theatrical debut was in Genesius’ production of “Rope,” but Diann truly found her home with Reading Community Players. There she was able to perform dream roles in “The Lion In Winter,”  “Driving Miss Daisy,” and “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Diann found a lot of joy with other local companies in their various productions over the years and many loyal friends along the way. Her favorite people have always been theater people and had immense pleasure working with those at Genesius, RCP, Reading Civic Theatre, Fleetwood Community Players, and Yocum Institute.

 

“Classy,” “loyal,” “full of spunk,” “beautiful,” “a 2nd mom,” ”fun and vibrant,” “special and one of a kind,” “sweet,” “amazing,” “her children’s biggest cheerleader,” “always positive,” “complete joy to be around,” “Hollywood Golden Age Glamor,” “so special,” “a sweetheart,” “awesome and wonderful woman,” “beautiful person,” “beautiful, positive, and compassionate woman,” “delightful,” “intelligent talented actress,” “wonderful lady,” “always great for a story or a laugh,” “inspiring and amazing woman,”....these are just some of the words left behind describing Diann by those whose lives she’s touched over the years. If you were lucky enough to earn Diann’s friendship, you earned a loyal, compassionate, do anything for you friend till the end. And Diann made new friends wherever she went—at the grocery store, CVS, Boscov’s, you name it. She would strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone as she genuinely loved people and loved getting to know their individual stories. She also loved when they didn’t believe her when she revealed her actual age, saying they thought she was much younger. Her answer was always a quick, “I picked my parents well.” She had a passion for people, their lives, their dreams, their individualities, their everything. She wanted to know everything about everyone and genuinely so.

 

Diann is survived by her most proud productions (as she always wrote in her bios), her children, Scott and Laura, as well as her daughter-in-law, Cynthia Estock; grandson, Logan Stewart-Mugno; sister-in-law, Cathy Stewart; niece, Kelli Stewart Soens; Kelli’s husband Brannon Soens; great nieces, Miles and Eliot Soens; extra daughter, Susan Grace; son-in-law, Bryan Steel; granddaughter, Tayler McCarthy; Tayler’s husband, Brian McCarthy; and great grandchildren, Greyson and Skyler McCarthy. She is also survived by many loving friends she’s had the undeniable pleasure of creating wonderful memories with.

 

No services are planned, although there will be a private family ceremony held at some time. As per her request, Diann only asked that if anyone would like to pay tribute to her, take a moment at their convenience to raise a glass and think of a special memory in her honor. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to a local animal shelter of your choosing.

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