A Tribute to Activist Diane Echelbarger
By Steven Potter
Fiercely independent. Snarky. Smart. Funny. Kind. These are a just few of the words friends used to describe Diane Echelbarger.
The longtime activist, political volunteer, social services worker and tall ship sailor was known for having her hands in many different activities at once. But no matter what she was doing, you could be sure of one thing: it would benefit others.
Whether she was restoring an educational sailboat, helping out at an organic food co-op, educating others about the voting system, maintaining bird-watching trails or live-tweeting (as @pewtergryphon) meetings on the environment for those who could not attend, Diane was always busy. Busy helping others.
“I will remember her verve and passion for things. Anything she was interested in, she threw herself into wholeheartedly and devoted herself to it,” said Diane’s friend Mariah Clark.
Last Thursday, after battling cancer for more than a year, Diane peacefully passed away. She was 52.
While still undergoing cancer treatment, Diane was recognized this past December for all of her tireless work as a consummate volunteer and was commended by the State of Wisconsin for all of her self-less work over the years. She also received a plaque recognizing her specific work from the Committee to Recall Scott Walker.
“As someone who had worked for the State of Wisconsin for over 20 years (in the disability assistance field), she was acutely aware of the implications of the Budget ‘Repair’ Bill,” said Clark. “She was appalled by almost everything in it, from the environmental and educational dangers to the stripping of collective bargaining rights from public workers.”
Over the many months of protesting Walker’s attacks on working families, Diane would become a part of The Democracy Addicts, a small, independent, unaffiliated group of political enthusiasts. Remembering Diane’s role in the group, Clark said: “One of the things we could all agree on was that one of the only good things Governor Walker had done was a great job bringing us all together.”
Diane’s activism also inspired others to take part in the political process. And educating others about the importance of their vote, and how it was the strongest voice they had, was one of her greatest skills.
“As an activist, she was important because she cared about being informed and sharing accurate information with others. She promoted voting and she was a tireless volunteer,” said Clark. “We are all stronger together and she was one of many across Wisconsin that helped to promote a better life and environment for everyone, now and in the future.”
Thank you and rest in peace, Diane. You will be greatly missed.
If you have a memory of Diane you would like to share, please do so below in the comments section.