Diane Marie Gerber Eigsti Gerber, 1941 - 2021
Diane Gerber died on January 30, 2021, at Duncaster, in Bloomfield, Connecticut, after an illness of many months.
Diane was born on March 16, 1941, in Sugarcreek, Ohio, to Marion (Wisseman) and Edward Gerber; she was one of six children (and was a fraternal twin to her brother Elliot). Diane is predeceased by her parents and her eldest brother Noel. She married James “Ike” Eigsti in 1963; Ike died far too young of pancreatic cancer in 1989. She remarried John Ellsworth Gerber in 1991, leading to her unusual double-Gerber name; her beloved John also died too young, in 2004, of glioblastoma (brain cancer).
Diane believed firmly in the power and value of education, and in doing work that matters. She graduated from Waynedale High School in Apple Creek, OH, in 1959, and from Goshen College, a Mennonite institution, where she studied nursing and graduated in 1963. She earned the MS in Public Health Nursing from Tulane University in 1967. Diane wore many different hats over the course of her life. She was instructor of nursing at Louisiana State University, and Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, Temple University, Miami University of Ohio, and Tennessee State University. She served as Director of Education and Nursing at the Jewish Home of Rochester; she was Project Coordinator for the National League for Nursing in New York City; and her final position was Consultant for the CDC’s Emerging Infections Program in the State of Tennessee. After taking this position, she bleached all fruits and vegetables before eating them. She authored some 23 peer-reviewed articles, and, with her colleagues Sue Clemen-Stone and Sandra McGuire, wrote the first textbook on Community Health Nursing, which went into six editions and paid for her children’s college educations.
She retired in 2004 and moved to South Windsor, Connecticut, to live within babysitting range of daughter Inge-Marie. As a public health nurse, she was especially passionate about food insecurity, and was an active volunteer with the local Farmer’s Market, with FoodShare of Connecticut, and as a member of the South Windsor Hunger Action Team. Until her mid-70’s, and to the dismay of her children, she moved several hundred pounds of donated food each week from grocery stores to the food bank. She was active in a “non-Red Hats” group (“nobody can tell us what hats to wear”), played Bridge and Mahjongg, and was active in multiple book clubs. A lifelong runner (2.5 miles a day, rain or shine), she slowed to a walk in her later years, exercising daily with a group of friends. She also loved to travel. She, Ike, and the girls lived in Germany in the early 1970s and traveled all over Europe and North Africa in a VW Camper. In retirement she visited Australia, Egypt, Senegal, Vietnam, Israel, and the Caribbean. With her gentleman companion of 14 years, George Yeramian, she traveled all over Connecticut, and trekked cross-country on Amtrak (round-trip!) to attend a family reunion on the West Coast. Reflecting her many careers, Diane moved over 35 times.
Diane leaves behind her daughter Heiki-Lara (Eigsti) Nyce, son-in-law Mark Nyce, and grandsons James and Conrad, of Telford, Pennsylvania; daughter Inge-Marie Eigsti, son-in-law Jim Magnuson, and granddaughters Lucia and Eleanor, of Storrs, Connecticut; her step-daughter Sarah (Gerber) and son-in-law Andrew Stockwell, and their daughters Sofia and Nina; and step-daughter Elizabeth Gerber and son-in-law Nic Switanek, and their children Isabelle and Henry; her companion George Yeramian; and her Maine Coon cat, Prince Harry. She also leaves behind siblings Elliot Gerber, Steve Gerber, Elaine Nand, and John Gerber and their spouses, and many nieces and nephews, cousins, and dear friends that treasured her. Diane will be remembered for her generosity to friends and strangers, her intense love for her grandchildren, her passionate political views, her affectionate probing questions (posed to anyone she encountered), and her sense of style. She will be greatly missed. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Foodshare (foodshare.org) or Doctors Without Borders (doctorswithoutborders.org). A memorial service will be held Summer 2021; for details, please contact Inge-Marie.