Diane Ekrem Webb died on March 13, 2022, from Lewy body dementia. On the Sunday afternoon of her passing, the sun came out and the wind came up, a fitting Pacific Northwestern farewell.
She was born “Diana Jean,” in Seattle, but her proud Norwegian roots were in the early family home in Ballard, where her father worked in the shipyards during the war. Her father called her “DianaJeanapunkinapieface Epumsgirl,” and her smile would light up a room.
Soon the family moved north to Burlington, where they started what would later become known as Ekrem Hardware, now in its 75th year. The small-town, know-your-neighbors atmosphere made for strong bonds among family and friends that lasted throughout her lifetime.
She excelled in studies, and after high school, she enrolled at Pacific Lutheran College. After a seven-year teaching career, she pursued a graduate program at the University of Washington for a master’s degree in library science.
It was while working at the state Capitol library in Olympia that she met her future husband, Bill. They were married at the Burlington Lutheran Church and settled in Centralia, where their daughter, Julie, was born. Over the course of 28 years there, they formed lifetime friendships with neighbors, fellow church members, and business associates, and Diane became known for her intelligence, kindness, determination and integrity. When times were lean, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work, as a bookkeeper, volunteer money manager, reference librarian, and counselor of students. When Bill left his industry to become a consulting forester, she kept the books, and paid the bills, all while being wife, mother and “the one who took in stray cats.”
In 1994, Bill and Diane moved north to Skagit Valley to be closer to her family, settling first on a small piece of farmland where the rich soil provided her the perfect outlet for her love of gardening. She made flower beds in every corner of the property, and when Bill wasn’t watching, planted flowers in his vegetable garden — “just until I find the right place to put them.”
Later in life, the couple moved to Shelter Bay, across the channel from La Conner, where they moored their boat, BackSoon, and shifted more of their summertime to boating in the Gulf Islands and beyond. New friendships evolved. Some formed while exploring the islands to the north, while others rekindled with former high school classmates.
Diane and her daughter were “two peas in a pod,” and Diane always kept a close and proud watch on her career and progress throughout life. They developed a mutual love for books, reading, and the Norwegian side of the family’s history, often sharing “good reads” and translations of old letters.
A diagnosis of “dementia with Lewy bodies,” compounded by aphasia, is daunting and cruel. Diane fought it with all she had, with courage, determination, and an unshakable will that you could read in her eyes. In spite of it all, she managed to form the charitable project, “Diane’s Books,” to provide reading material for the children in a local program called Family Promise.
She died at home, with her family by her side, and nothing will ever be the same for us. Her family will long remember the support and compassion of the caregivers who treated Diane as one of their own during her final days.
Diane is survived by her husband Bill Webb; daughter Julie Webb; brother Ken Ekrem (Sandy); nephew Cory Ekrem (Anikò Kiss); niece Amy Leino (Miikka) and her children Lukas and Elsa; Bill’s brother Tom Webb (Joyce) and their family Steven, Andrea and Jase; and a host of loving family and friends.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on June 17, 2022, at Salem Lutheran Church, 2529 N. Laventure Road, Mount Vernon, Washington. A lunch reception will follow, to which all are warmly invited. A private interment service will follow at a later date.
Remembrances can be made in the form of donations to Family Promise of Skagit Valley with a memo “in memory of Diane Webb, to Hospice of the Northwest, or your local library or the charity of your choice.
Please visit her online obituary at www. bonneywatson.com.