Diane Shirley McCorkle was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on December 17, 1963, the second daughter of Carrie (Banks) and Charles McCorkle. As a student in the Cleveland Public Schools, Diane was in the Major Works program which provided additional learning opportunities beyond the regular curriculum. At age 10 she became the first person in her household to have a passport when, with the support of her family, friends, and school community, she participated in a month-long study in France program. That trip remained a highlight among her life experiences. Diane graduated from Laurel School for Girls in 1982 and, after a freshman year at Northwestern University, she enrolled at The Ohio State University. Diane entered college with the intention of majoring in science or engineering, but ultimately majored in English, earning both a B.A. and M.A. from OSU.
While volunteering on a political campaign, Diane met fellow OSU student Steven J. Reed, whom she later married. Together they had two sons: Charles Julian, and Ian Alexander, McCorkle-Reed. Although the marriage ended, Diane was committed to ensuring that her sons always had both parents in their lives. The family was rounded out by the cats, often strays, who Diane brought into their home. For reasons known only to Diane, she seemed to prefer having three cats at any given time. The death of a cat soon would be followed by the acquisition of another one. She wanted them to have a home.
Diane was employed by Zettler Hardware for more than twenty years, serving in various roles including assistant manager. While this was far afield from English literature, it was consistent with the love for things mechanical that she had shown as a child, when she took every opportunity to accompany her grandfather on jobs he did as an electrical handyman. She appreciated the diverse backgrounds of the store’s customers, whose stories she learned as she helped them with projects, and commented often on how knowing them enriched her life. She was always glad when her knowledge of French enabled her to communicate with her neighbors in their own language.
Diane was an avid reader; she had an affinity for crime mysteries but read books of many genres. Social media became an important part of her life as she made connections through various alumni, community, and social groups, sometimes sharing more than her family would have liked, but always doing so in good faith. Her openness was driven by her belief that people, on the whole, are basically good. She used social media as an outlet for her writing, and never gave up her ambition of becoming a published author.
Diane’s health began to decline in 2018, when a serious episode of shortness of breath sent her to the hospital emergency department under doctor’s orders. The months that followed were filled with tests, new medications, and challenges that no one in Diane’s life could have expected her to face. She was reluctant to accept the limitations that her health placed on her ability to continue her usual activities, including working at her job.
Diane died at her home in Columbus on May 18, 2019. She is survived by her sons, Charles and Ian McCorkle-Reed; sister, Linda McCorkle; an aunt, Dorothy Banks; cousins including Cheri and Sonya Banks, Karen Banks, Alice Cofield, Portia Tibbs, and Gerry Maynor. She will be missed by close friends including longtime neighbors Laura, Paul, and Ben Griffin, and her friend Phil Jenkins; and other friends and relatives.
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