Diana Willensky Thompson

  • "I was so sorry to learn of Diana's passing. Although we..."
    - Teresa Buerkle
  • "I am very sorry to hear of Diana's passing. I knew her in..."
    - Mike Robbins
  • "I'm sorry for your loss."
    - D
  • "Morning walks, porch parties, impromptu New Year's Eve..."
  • "We shall greatly miss your kindness and enthusiasm, your..."
    - Donatella Capone Martini

1965 - 2018
Diana Willensky Thompson died on the morning of August 8th, 2018, after a 9-month battle with cholangiocarcinoma. She was 53. Extroverted, ebullient, and energetic, Diana was a natural leader who combined practicality with exuberance; fearless adventurousness with a love of home, family, and a world-wide circle of adoring friends. A native of Park Slope, Brooklyn, she was a true New Yorker, shaped in part by her late father Elliot Willensky, a noted Brooklyn historian and coauthor of the AIA Guide to New York City. Diana's openness and curiosity led her to a career in journalism and writing, including stints at American Health magazine; the U.N. agencies FAO and IFAD in Rome, Italy; and, most recently, her dream job at The Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Always an inveterate traveler, with a particular love of language; good food and wine; along with Mediterranean climes, Diana left the States after graduating University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, to live in Italy for two years. She returned to Italy in her 30s for Naples, and later, Rome, spending more than a decade in the country that became her second home. While there, she made a tight-knit circle of friends-a second family-and charmed everyone she met with her fluent Italian, her sense of fun, and her warmth, sparkle, and inner light, qualities that never require translation and that drew people to her wherever she went.

Diana was a woman who knew what she wanted. She was opinionated, bold, and occasionally bossy in the nicest possible way. So, in her early 40s, when she decided she was ready for her next adventure-love, marriage and motherhood-she took direct action. She went online and met her rocket-scientist husband Charles Thompson while in Italy, but thought nothing of traveling across the ocean to meet him for their first "blind" date in New York City. Less than a year later, she resettled in California, eventually landing in South Pasadena. There she put her fierce energies into being the most loving wife to Charles, mother to Sebastian, friend and neighbor, creating a home and garden filled with bountiful light and color, much like her personality. Friends and family across the globe will miss dear, sweet, vibrant Diana, who thought about others' comfort and well being until the end. Diana is survived by her husband Charles and their son Sebastian; her mother Kathryn Rubeor and her brother Marcus Willensky. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation [cholangiocarcinoma.org]. Memorial gatherings will be held at future dates on the east coast, west coast and Italy.
Published on NYTimes.com from Aug. 10 to Aug. 11, 2018
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