By Jayne Shepherd
It is with great sadness and also with a smile on my face that I remember Dianne Koontz Lowman. Dianne was an amazing, warm, kind person who loved to learn. She left this earth way too early this week.
I met Dianne at the AOTA Promoting Partnership Project in the 1990s as the Virginia Education representative. I was thrilled when she applied for the VCU Project Coordinator for our newly acquired Interdisciplinary School Based OT/PT grant from the Virginia Department of Education. As a special educator, she made it her business to learn as much as she could about the OT profession and brought a wonderful perspective for our students and faculty. Dianne co-taught the School Based Therapy, Infants and Early Childhood, and Development courses and led many qualitative research groups with me and others related to children with chronic health care needs, feeding, play, transition and early childhood. Her organizational skills (color coded folders and paperclips, pens, notebooks, and agendas) and ability to teach were awesome and so appreciated by students and faculty. And her Boyd Bears were special!
In Dianne style, she threw herself into all things in the OT Department and then became a tenured faculty member with us. She wrote many articles, books, chapters, and presented to many interdisciplinary audiences. Always a hard worker, she contributed to various committees within the OT Department and the School of Allied Health Professions and again, her organizational skills were valued. As a great team player, she loved to mentor others with humor and purpose and to learn from others. Dianne was compassionate about “our kids”, family centered care, and positive behavioral supports. Who can forget her stories about children and families and the emotions they evoked in her and all of us? Students in the activities course may remember Dianne and her beloved George driving their Morgan to VCU for the faculty sharing about their meaningful activities in life.
Family was so important to Dianne and I remember when her son Heath and Jeanne were married and her excitement. The addition of grandchildren, Kaylee and then Caleb made her heart flutter with even more happiness. Family was her priority and I will always appreciate her support when my father died or when I had parenting issues that needed a listening ear. Dianne could point out the positives when things weren’t going well. When she left VCU to go to JMU TTAC, we were very sad to see her leave yet happy she was moving closer to her new home (built from the trees on her parent’s farm) and to her soulmate George who was sick.
After George went to heaven, Dianne threw herself into learning once again and got a counseling degree from Liberty University. I still saw her off and on at different conferences and was amazed to see her new adventures develop. She learned to play the harp, became an advocate for girls and women who were placed in human trafficking, worked in equine therapy, and volunteered for missions in Nepal and Ukraine, while continuing to be a role model to many. She was the best Nana to Kaylee and Caleb!
Dianne has left her mark on many and a great hole is left. I am comforted that she is joining George in heaven and watching from a new perspective. May we all remember and embrace Dianne’s compassion for others, quest to learn, and her focus on family first. VCU’s Department of OT sends our warmest thoughts to Dianne’s family and hope they will keep her memories close to their heart and be comforted by all the people she touched during her lifetime. She does live on by her inspiration to others. Rest in peace Dianne. I will miss you and appreciate you more than you will ever know.
More information about Dianne: Obituary