Dianne Elizabeth Grace
September 5, 1934 – February 21, 2018
Dianne Elizabeth Dorsel Grace of Port St. Joe, Florida passed away peacefully on February 21, 2018 at the age of 83. She was in the company of daughter Juliette, and in spirit with the multitude of family and friends who lovingly prayed for her.
Known as “The Charge” to her 4 younger siblings, Dianne grew up in Highland Heights, KY, and learned at an early age how to handle a large group of little kids (this would come in very handy later…). She graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Park Hills, KY and attended Saint Elizabeth’s School of Nursing to obtain her RN. At St. E’s and during her nursing rotations, she made lifelong friends who became affectionately known as “The Crème of the Crop”.
Tall and athletic, young nurse Dianne was on a nursing rotation in Lexington, KY when she met equally dashing young Bob Grace at a Newman Club picnic. He selected her to be on his softball team (he says because she had long legs and “looked like she could run fast”. Mmm hmm…..). As a married couple, the two played as mixed doubles tennis partners as well as in their own singles leagues, earned scuba certification (one memorable trip was to the Grand Cayman Islands), enjoyed hikes in the Great Smokey Mountains and many visits to Disney/Epcot during Bob’s annual Veterinary conferences. On September 1, 2017, they celebrated their 61st Wedding Anniversary.
An excellent event planner and hostess, Dianne co-hosted (with ‘Bob the Builder’ of home and grounds) an annual “Tophill Tennis Classic” for many years on their lovely farm in Fairdale, KY. The 3 day event every Memorial Day weekend was an opportunity for her siblings, in-laws and their children (otherwise known as “The Cousins”) to spend the long weekend together, celebrate high school graduations, and engage in a little friendly competition on the tennis court. Ever attentive to details and special touches, Dianne even provided trophies and an award ceremony at the end. The extended sleepovers and extra play time offered her children, nieces and nephews an opportunity to develop bonds that are ever strong to this day.
Dianne and Bob also hosted fabulous office Christmas parties for the employees of Audubon Animal Hospital and their significant others. Guests were treated to her famous homemade spaghetti and meatballs and tortellini dessert, which was both delicious and aesthetically pleasing. She made holidays and childhood in general very special for her seven children. Sunday dinners and Birthday dinners were especially memorable, with home-cooked favorites lovingly prepared, fabulous aromas filling the house. Many of these recipes are thankfully preserved in “Dorsel Family Favorites: Cooking with Love” which Dianne spear-headed along with sister Daphne and niece Stacy. This quote from the volume pretty much sums up the passion, joy and fellowship these meals have and will continue to foster within the Dorsel & Grace families: “Food is more than nourishment for the body. When made with love, it is sustenance for the soul.”
Called “Saint Dianne” by many who benefitted from her care, compassion and self-sacrifice, she was deeply rooted in her faith and taught her children about God’s love by modeling Christ’s behavior and leading by example. Everyone was a “darling boy” or “darling girl” to Dianne, especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Though they were numerous, each received special gifts from Grammy & Paw at Christmas time and birthdays: tiny bags of goodies, savings bonds, unique magazine subscriptions, and more recently she even adopted a couple of sea turtle nests in their honor and allowed the kids to “name” the mommy turtles. She spent special time with the Grandies teaching cooking classes, reading books, and volunteering at the Farnsley-Moremen historic house just south of Louisville on the banks of the Ohio River.
While she worked professionally as a nurse only a short time, Dianne nurtured and blessed others her entire life with her medical knowledge and skills. As “Nurse Kratchett” to her “patients” at home, she deeply empathized with others pain and discomfort be it meningitis, chicken pox, strep throat, the common cold or double-pneumonia. She gave loved ones the knowledge and confidence that everything was going to be ok. She understood emotional health as well as physical, and whether it be heartbreak, job loss, or simply a crappy day, she knew just when to administer homemade chicken soup, a hot toddy, a piece of dark chocolate, or a glass of red wine.
Dianne was blessed with an eclectic array of talents. She was well read and an excellent scrabble player. A skilled seamstress, she sewed charming matching outfits for her young children, made stuffed animals, holiday napkins, and recital costumes. Possessing a beautiful singing voice, Dianne sang with her sisters on stage & radio as a young girl, in church for weekly Mass and weddings, and on the occasional demo-tape for her youngest daughter’s musical pursuits. After “retiring” with Bob to Port St. Joe, Florida, Dianne enjoyed time with her friends kayaking through the Cypress stumps of the Dead Lakes and other Gulf County Florida streams and waterways. She made pottery, participated in a book club, and volunteered at Saint Vincent National Wildlife refuge and at Port St. Joe’s Sacred Heart Hospital. On the “side” she performed bookkeeping duties in support of dear husband Bob’s many business passions and pursuits. She loved her faith, family, friends, opera, Louisville Basketball and the occasional good martini (although, after one particular “2 martini date” she remarked on the way home, "Oh Bob, look at the beautiful lighted Christmas tree spinning in those people's front yard". The live tree was ROOTED, and after that Bob insisted on ONE martini, which she adhered to from then on….).
Dianne was preceded in death by her youngest brother David, grandson Alexander, her parents Bill and Mary Rose, sister Deirdre (Charles) and sister-in-law Mary Ann Dorsel. She is survived by her husband Bob Grace, brother Bill Dorsel, sister Daphne (Jim) Lloyd, and children Mary (Jack) Curtis, Jim (Susan) Grace, Tom (Susan) Grace, Peggy (Glen Mudd) Grace, Aimee (Steve) Miller, Juliette (Jimmy Jones) Grace and Jennifer (Ken Eling) Grace. She is also cherished and remembered by her beloved nieces and nephews, and 23 grandchildren; Lauren, Cole, Lisa(Jeremy), Becky, Michael, Sarah(Joey), Katie, Susannah, Molly, Sydney, Samantha, Josie, Phillip(Jennifer), Elaine, Robert, Paul, Ross, Daniel, Madison, David, Harrison, Maria and Adam, and her 2 great grandchildren Jacob and Millie (plus 2 more due this spring/summer…). Whew!
The family will have a Memorial Mass and receive family and friends on
Saturday, March 24, 2018 at:
Saint Francis of Assisi 1960 Bardstown Road Louisville, KY 40205
Mass at 10:00 AM Celebration of Life to follow
Dianne was a compassionate supporter of their local Humane Society. In lieu of flowers, please send any memorial gifts to:
St. Joseph Bay Humane Society 1007 Tenth St. Port St. Joe, FL 32456 http://www.sjbhumanesociety.org/
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
1960 Bardstown Road