Diane Lyn (Harkness) Conner, 79, was born on August 22, 1942, in Tacoma, Washington to Jim and Dorothy Harkness. She was the eldest of three children, including brothers Jamie and David. Diane graduated from Lincoln High school in Tacoma in 1960. Throughout her high school years, she developed lifelong hobbies for reading, writing, and speaking, as well as a love of swimming. She served as the president of the synchronized swimming team and excelled in honors English courses. Diane held the associate editor position at the Lincoln High School newspaper and was a worthy advisor of a local Rainbow Girls Chapter. As a testament to her lovely charm and sweet nature, Diane was also the Queen of the 1960 Puyallup Valley Daffodil Festival.
Diane attended college at Washington State University, as well as the University of Puget Sound, where she dedicated time in her junior year ‘colonizing’ a new chapter for the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She met her future husband Michael (Mike) Conner at WSU, and they were married on June 9, 1963. Diane graduated from WSU in 1964 with a degree in English education. She spent the following summer as a lifeguard at Pearrygin Lake State Park and lived on the Twisp Ranger District compound in North Central Washington.
In the fall of 1964, Diane and Mike moved to the Naches Ranger District on the Snoqualmie National Forest, where Mike had his first permanent appointment with the U.S. Forest Service. Diane started her teaching career in both the Naches and Yakima school districts. Diane and Mike became members of the Yakima Episcopal church during this time. They started their family when daughters Debbie and Tina were born during the five years at the ranger station. As the ranger station was located thirty-five miles west of Yakima, Washington, Diane was very thankful for the close-knit group of friends who lived and worked there. These friends remained close throughout her life.
In 1970, Mike and Diane moved to Pendleton, Oregon. Diane continued teaching English at Pendleton High School. There, their youngest daughter Susan was born, completing the family. The family continued with the Episcopal church and made many friends in the area. The Conners moved to Corvallis, Oregon in 1974 and joined another Episcopal church. Diane attended Oregon State University and received her Master of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies of Journalism, Education, and English.
In 1978, Mike, Diane and the family moved to Kalispell, Montana when Mike began working on for the Flathead National Forest. Diane accepted a teaching position at Flathead High School where she taught English, Journalism and advised the high school yearbook and newspaper staffs for ten years. During that time, the publications she advised won several state and national awards. Diane most fondly remembered the wonderful young people who touched her life as she touched theirs.
Diane retired from teaching in 1989 and started a small desktop publishing business, working mostly for non-profit organizations. She was a long-time member of Northridge Lutheran church where she participated in the choir, served on the Worship and Music Board, and was an active part of the Spiritual Formation Group.
In 2002, Diane and Mike were recognized as Lay Pastoral Associates for the Montana Synod, ELCA Lutheran church, and worked as a team. Diane specialized in sermons to reach out and touch individuals and congregations, sharing the love God had given her and her family. Diane and Mike served as interim pasters in Thompson Falls, Plains, and Big Sandy. They also continued to provide support to other Lutheran churches in northwest Montana, including their home congregation at Northridge Lutheran church in Kalispell.
Diane always stayed busy in retirement, enjoying fun with her children and grandchildren. She was always ready to read stories, bake pies and cookies, cook delicious meals, or supervise swimming and boating fun at their lake place. Diane loved parenting and grandparenting and was extraordinary at both. When Diane took time for herself, she loved designing and expanding the buildings at the lake, reading, evening lake cruises, watching wildlife, cheering on her beloved Seattle Seahawks, and hosting family and friends.
Diane lived a full and well-loved life. She raised three wonderful daughters and one fine husband. She spoiled and loved eight grandchildren and one great grandchild. Her incredible kindness and love blessed countless people who crossed her path in life.
Diane passed at 2:35 p.m. on Thursday, January 6, 2022, surrounded by her husband Mike and three daughters, Debbie, Tina, and Susan. She is survived by her husband Mike Conner, her daughters Debbie Richter (significant other Rick Kitchens), Tina Wigen (husband Gregg) and Susan Stark (husband Jamie), as well as her grandchildren, Rebekah, J.J. (wife Lauren), Kaitlyn, Daniel, Alex, Alli, Timothy, Ethan, and great grandchild John Clyde. Other surviving family members include her brothers Jamie (wife Patti), and David (wife Cyndi), sisters-in-law Barbara Conner, Cherie Conner, and Mary Harmer, plus many loving nieces and nephews. Proceeding in death were her mother and father Jim and Dorothy Harkness, brother in-laws Skip Conner, and Terry Conner.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp, 603 S Main Street, Kalispell, MT 59901 or Northridge Lutheran Church, 323 Northridge Drive, Kalispell, MT 59901. Friends are encouraged to visit our website at www.buffalohillfh.com to leave notes of condolences for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory caring for the family.