In Memoriam: Diane Freedman

Members of MAR/AAS were saddened to learn that our former executive secretary, Diane Freedman, passed away in January 2013.

For many years Diane was a very dedicated and active member of MAR/AAS. She held the position of Executive Secretary and made it her mission to organize membership and conference registration records. At every Executive Committee meeting she made a strong and energizing presentation. Diane also worked with her sister, Marcy Barth, to design and print several MAR/AAS Conference Program Booklets. They developed a very good standard for the booklet.

Diane was a Cultural Anthropologist who taught Anthropology courses in the Social Sciences Department at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), where she made a great contribution to international studies. Her research interests included Gender and Family, Dance, Movement and the Body, and Ritual. She conducted fieldwork on courtship and marriage rituals in a Romanian community in northern Transylvania. While there, she was able to combine her love of folk dance with her research interests in gender, by studying dance in courtship and marriage rituals.

She expanded her interest to Asian culture and investigated gender representations in Japanese art. She especially loved the 11th-century work of classic Japanese literature, The Tale of Genji. She presented many papers in Genji panels at MAR/AAS conferences.

Diane enjoyed collecting Japanese prints, especially those with a Genji theme. She and her husband, Joseph Pluciennik, owned a lovely home near Pennypack Creek in Northeast Philadelphia. They built an addition to house their large collection of prints and books. In addition, Joseph’s model railroads filled their entire basement. They opened their home for many annual “Train Days” so their friends could enjoy their Japanese art and model trains.

Diane was so full of life that MAR/AAS members could not believe it when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. She told us that her surgeon at Fox Chase Cancer Center recommended that Diane begin her treatment, not with surgery but with the systemic approach of chemotherapy. This had the best chance for shortening later treatment by radiation and perhaps lessening the severity of necessary surgery. So in November 2010 Diane started six months of chemotherapy with the hope that she might not need surgery. After that a decision would be made on radiation.

The treatment was difficult but Diane came through and eventually returned to the faculty at Community College of Philadelphia. In the Fall 2012 semester she was teachng a full schedule of courses. Unfortunately, although she worked hard, kept a positive attitude, and was in a support group at Fox Chase, Diane was finally not able to overcome her breast cancer.

Her services were held on Thursday, January 24, 2013, at Joseph Levine & Sons Memorial Chapel in Trevose, PA. Donations in her memory can be made to Temple Menorah Keneseth Chai, or Yad Sarah. Community College of Philadelphia also held a memorial for Diane.

In the Joseph Levine & Sons online book of condolence, former MAR/AAS President Frank Chance wrote a message that sums up the feelings of the members of our Association:

“Diane was a wonderful colleague and a great friend. We will miss her dearly.”

--Dorothy Perkins