Verona- Diana Girdley, wife, mother, grandmother, and educator died on Sunday, May 17, 2020 at home following a long illness. She was born May 28,1950 in Lancaster Ohio, however lived the majority of her younger years in Connersville Indiana. She attended Ball State University where she received her BS in Nursing, followed by UW-Madison where she earned her MS in nursing. She practiced in a variety of areas throughout her professional career, however her true love and passion was for teaching undergraduate nursing students which was realized when she joined the clinical faculty at UW-Madison School of Nursing. Her tenure as a clinical professor at the School of Nursing exceeded 30 years during which time, she guided and inspired hundreds of students. Diana was known by her students for her calm, supportive, yet challenging intellectual approach to teaching. She enjoyed long-lasting friendships with her School of Nursing colleagues and nursing staff with whom she worked. Diana was always quick to recognize the contribution of the nursing staff to the student’s education. During her tenure, she also served as clinical course director and mentored many new clinical facility while also providing support for existing faculty.
As an avid quilter, Diana made many quilts that now grace her home, and the homes of friends and family. Quilting provided an outlet for her throughout her life and introduced her to many people with whom she remained close throughout her life. She always looked forward to attending quilting retreats where she could focus her energy and passion on something that she really enjoyed.
Those of us close to her learned that her passion for quilting was nearly equaled by her love of the Decorah eagles who she watched through the eagle cams. There was little room for much else while the eaglets were hatching and growing. She was fortunate enough to be able to take a trip with her husband (Frosty) to Decorah to experience the magic and scenery of the location in person.
During her illness, she frequently expressed how fortunate she was to have the opportunity to experience the joy of spending time with her close friends and family. She considered her time after diagnosis a gift and was determined to spend it well. She was able to travel to one of her favorite locations (Hotel Del Coronado) twice with family, was present for the birth of her Granddaughter (Grace), and lived in the moment with no regrets as she had done her whole life. Diana felt so blessed to have had many acquaintances, as well as a few very close friends whom she loved dearly. These friends provided so much support to her, and her family, throughout her illness. The overwhelming generosity of Caitlin’s and Ian’s friends and colleagues, as well as those friends and acquaintances of Diana and Frosty’s, has been beyond expectations.
Her family and friends would like to express heart-felt thanks to the staff of Heartland Hospice who provided exceptional care and support to Diana and the rest of us. Without them we would not have been able to honor her wish to die comfortably at home. Likewise, endless thanks to the providers, nursing staff, and support staff at the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
Please remember Diana fondly and with joy – not sadness. Remember her quick wit, smile and laughter. Honor her memory by finding enjoyment in all animals (most especially eagles, cats and kittens!), experiencing peace with nature, and most especially in cherishing time with your loved ones.
Diana found this quote from hospice and shared it with her husband (Frosty) within weeks of her passing. This is truly how Diana lived and how she would want to be remembered.
“You can shed a tear because they are gone, or you can smile because they lived. You can close your eyes and pray they will come back, or you can open your eyes and see all that they left for you. Your heart can be empty because you can’t see them, or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can remember only that they are gone, or you can cherish their memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind and feel empty, or you can do what they would want. Smile, Open your heart, Love… and go on.”
She is survived by her husband, Forrest “Frosty” Girdley; son, Ian Girdley; daughter, Caitlin (Nate) Weitzel; grandchildren, Lucas and Grace Weitzel; as well as sister, Patricia (Ben) Bennett. Donations in her name may be offered to Second Harvest Food Bank, Dane County Humane Society, or Raptor Resource Project (Decorah, Iowa).
Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
220 Enterprise Drive
To send flowers to Diana's family, please visit our floral store.