What Lenny Dian saw during World War II stayed with him and motivated him for life.
An aerial gunner and photographer with the U.S. 9th Air Force, he took pictures of the Normandy invasion and chronicled the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.
Mr. Dian, a Cliffside Park resident who died last Wednesday 10/24 Oct. 24 at 90, was haunted by the bodies and of the victims being offloaded from boxcars.
"For the first 15 years I couldn't sleep," he told The Record three years ago for a Veterans Day story.
Dian's son, Mark, said: "He was flown in there quickly and witnessed and documented the most horrific things you could possibly imagine, and he suffered as a result.
"The images were so powerful, he couldn't keep them out of his mind. But instead of never touching a camera again, he continued on with photography and documented the highlights of life."
Immediately after the war, Mr. Dian worked in England as a photojournalist with Picture Post magazine. Returning home, the grocer's son from West New York opened a photography studio specializing in weddings, school events and other happy moments. Mark Dian now runs the Fairview-based business.
Mr. Dian, an accomplished pianist and vocalist, also spent a good deal of the war entertaining his comrades, and he toured with the American singer and actress Jane Froman.CQ Just as his wartime experiences provided a springboard for his career in photography, so did they jump-start his parallel career as a bandleader. The Lenny Dian Orchestra had |a standing gig at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan for more than 20 years.
Mr. Dian was honored for volunteerism, much of it in conjunction with Lions Club International. He was a past governor of the Lions district that includes Bergen and Hudson counties and was active in the service organization's youth exchange program. He and his wife, Dorothy, hosted students from Japan and Europe.
Mr. Dian also raised funds for the Lions' Camp Marcella, a summer retreat in Rockaway for visually impaired children, and he played the piano and sang at events at St. Joseph's School for the Blind in Jersey City.
"Lenny was a gregarious and upbeat man who used his passions music and photography to benefit others," said Robert Moore of Stockholm, Sussex County, a longtime friend and a past international director of the Lions.
Mr. Dian, a recipient of the Bergen County Military Service Medal, played the piano at area nursing and veterans homes until recently.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years; his children, Kathleen DeCarlo of Cliffside Park and Mark Dian of River Vale; a sister, Marie Macchi of Toms River, and two grandchildren.
The funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Grace R.C. Church, FairviewFuneral arrangements were under the direction of Frank A. Patti and Kenneth Mikatarian Funeral Directors, Fort Lee.