Diana Rowe Doran of Wellesley died November 6. She was 79. Born and raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia, she had lived in Wellesley for 55 years, raising a family and contributing to the community in her unassuming but inspirational manner. Diana began the study of piano at the age of four, playing in her first recital soon thereafter and later discovering she was among a small minority with perfect pitch. At thirteen, she performed her first solo concert at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg. She graduated from Penn Hall Preparatory School and Junior College, where she was captain of the basketball team, president of the athletic association and named Penn Hall Girl, the schools highest honor. After receiving a degree in applied music from Randolph-Macon Womens College, where she performed a solo concert that included the works of Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Liszt, she continued her study of classical music with Erno Balogh, a protg of Bela Bartok and teacher at the Peabody Conservatory. Concurrently, she provided dinner musicplaying popular standardsat the Officers Club at Quantico Marine base in Virginia. She was invited to perform yet another solo concert at Mary Washington College. Subsequently signed by MCA, she played their hotel circuit for a brief period until her marriage. She later resumed her career, playing at the Wellesley Inn and other Boston-area establishments. These included the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston and the Sheraton Hotel in Lexington, where she provided Sunday brunch music. During this time, she studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. In addition, she was the accompanist for the dance classes at Wellesley College for nearly a decade. With much determination and a genuine desire to learn more about the instrument she played, she enrolled in the study of piano tuning and repair. She then became a professional piano tuner in addition to her other activities. In 1986, she collaborated with her eighty-six-year-old mother to publish the book Letters from a World War I Aviator, a compilation of her fathers letters and photographs from his service in the 147th Aerosquadron, along with Eddie Rickenbacker. The book was critically acclaimed by the Smithsonian Institutions Air & Space magazine (as well as sold in its bookstore for many years) and by other experts in World War I aviation, nationally and internationally. In 1995, Diana presented her children with a recording of a selection of her piano music. Titled Cocktail Piano Reflections, the CD was so well received by family, friends, and others that it was reproduced and sold in local stores, as well as in Virginia. Though music was both vocation and avocation, her greatest love was her family. Bringing her particular joy was the cherished time she spent teaching a grandchild to play the piano. She leaves her partner of 31 years, Martin Padley of Wellesley, and her children, Kathryn Doran, Arthur Doran, and Lee Thornton, all of Natick, Massachusetts, and Cynthia Swope of McLean, Virginia. Predeceased by a grandson, she is also survived by eight grandchildren: Sarah Thornton; William, Charlotte, Arthur, Evelyn and Carter Doran; and Zachary and Claudia Swope. In addition, she is survived by two brothers, Charles S. Rowe and Josiah P. Rowe III, both of Fredericksburg, Virginia. A memorial service was held at the Eliot Church in South Natick on Saturday, November 12. Contributions in Dianas memory may be sent to Globe Santa Fund Trust, c/o Citizens Bank, P.O. Box 845059, Boston, MA 02284-5059.
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Published in The Wellesley Townsman from Nov. 12 to Nov. 19, 2011