You Knew Where She Stood
It was her best trait and her worst: Diane Urban said what she thought, whether you wanted to hear it or not. The habit was so well known that a relative suggested at her memorial service that they all get T-shirts saying, "Diane Urban Told Me Off."
Sometimes the target of her sharp tongue was an underperforming subordinate at the New York State Department of Taxation, where she rose to No. 2 in the income tax division. Sometimes it was her superiors. Once, she told them she was sick of training accountants only to have them leave for better salaries. "If I wanted to be a teacher, I would have been one," she said.
Ms. Urban, 50 and divorced for more than 20 years, could also be tart with the men in her life. And she tested the patience of her sister, Terry Corio, who withdrew from their relationship for a few years, drained by Ms. Urban's truth-telling. "She never backed down," Mrs. Corio said. "She was a pistol."
But the sisters always loved each other, Mrs. Corio said, and reunited last year. Ms. Urban had recently realized her dream of buying a home on Long Island, not far from her sister and brother-in-law. The sisters had their nails done together, recently splurging an extra $5 to have tiny flowers painted on their wine-colored toes. They were looking forward to pizza and rented movies on Saturday nights this winter.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 31, 2001.