Cotten Funeral Home

2201 Neuse Blvd, New Bern, NC


Diane Kay Harper

November 25, 1949July 31, 2020

On Friday, July 31, 2020, Diane Kay Harper, loving mother, sister, teacher, and friend, passed away at age 70 after a courageous battle against cancer.

Diane was born November 25, 1949 in Syracuse, NY to John and Lillian Harper. She received her Doctorate in Literature from the University of Central Florida, and retired from her teaching career in 2008 when she moved to be close to her daughter and grandchild.

Aside from her avid dedication to literature, Diane had a passion for nature. She believed in the importance of preserving the landscapes and creatures of the earth. This passion was evident in the many beautiful photographs she shot while hiking countless National Parks and wildlife preserves. This passion for conservation is a legacy that she has left for her daughter and grandchildren. Diane was also an accomplished pianist who played the pipe organ at many churches throughout the Syracuse area including Hendricks Chapel At SU for Weddings and Sunday services while growing up.

She is survived by her brother and sister John (Merikay) and Sue; daughter, Christina; grandchildren, Caden and Alaina; many cousins, nieces, and nephews; and countless other “kids” she nurtured and taught along the way.

Diane was preceded in death by her father John E. Harper, and mother Lillian W. Harper.

Services are pending and will be announced at a later date.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Diane Kay Harper

have a memory or condolence to add?

Dianne Burd

August 4, 2020

We shared a birthday and a first name as well as a love of literature. Our years together in the LM English workroom resulted in many great conversations and shared ideas. My sympathy to her family in this loss.

Cheryl Condos

August 1, 2020

My deepest condolences to Christina, your family, and all her many friends. Diane and I were roommates the first couple of years at SUNY @ Potsdam, where we developed a deep and abiding Life-long friendship that Time, travel, and experiences could only enhance when we reconnected. She was deeply passionate about so many things that I was privileged we shared as she started to reach for her stars; Diane's Soul, her Being such a rare jewel like the poetry, Nature, and music she so loved. I remember her laughter most... then and recently... high musical notes ascending heavenward! Our most precious talks these past seven months began when, on this last particularly lonely Christmas Evening I wandered down to the mailbox to see if perhaps I'd received a renegade card. BEHOLD! there was a single bright red card with Diane's return address on it! My BEST gift of pure joy: her phone number inside! and I wasted no time calling for the first of many warm, incredible chats with a soulmate I had and will always love deeply. She gave the world Her extraordinary Self, with so much Love and generosity. I celebrate the joy it was to have Diane's presence grace one's life, no matter for how long or short, or the manner.
And Christina, her love, gratitude, and pride for you and her beloved granddaughter is simply beyond words, yet overflowing! Be at Peace.

Joyce Joseph

August 1, 2020

I am so sorry to hear the news of Diane’s passing! I remember how excited she was prior to retiring. I am happy that her wish to retire came true because she wanted to be with her daughter and grandchild. How lucky she was to have the last twelve years with her family! May she Rest In Peace with God and the angels!

Bob Skevington

July 31, 2020

Diane and I met during our first year in college, 50 years ago. We lost track of each other, lived our separate lives. We somehow reconnected on Facebook in 2016. We messaged, texted, and from time to time talked on the phone. What I thought might be a 15 minute phone conversation would usually extend into 45 minutes or an hour. Even with her health challenges and discomfort during this last year or so, she would always ask "what is going on with you? Are you doing ok?" And knowing that she wanted to know, I would talk, and she would listen.

Michele Dershimer

July 31, 2020

I worked at LMHS in the English department with Diane in the early 90s. She was a mentor and a huge support for me when I went through a rough time. ❤️

Babetta Popoff

July 31, 2020

Diane nurtured me through tough times in high school and planted in me a love for critical thinking and literature and the knowledge that someone believed in me, that helped me believe in myself and made me the teacher I am today. I pass on that thirst for knowledge and a love of curiosity that she first shared with me.

Lisa Gendreau

July 31, 2020

I began teaching at Lake Mary High in 1996 after Diane left for Oviedo. I heard about the famous Diane and some of my teacher editions had her name in them. It wasn’t until 2006 when I cane to Hagerty High that I met her and showed her I still had her teacher material.

It was an honor to learn from you and follow in your footsteps as Department Chair. May heaven be a grammatically better place because of you.

Ann Trausi

July 31, 2020

We worked together for only a few years; however, you were inspirational! Rest In Peace, my friend, and my prayers for your family❤️

Leah Miranda (Goetzke)

July 31, 2020

Dr. Harper taught me for 2 years at Hagerty. I’ll never forget her glowing reception of a poem analysis I did senior year; it meant so much coming from her. I went on to teach English and thought of her often when I was with my own students. My deepest condolences to her friends and family.

Jennifer Lowe

July 31, 2020

Miss Diane was always looking out for the neighborhood and was the best substitute grandma for all the kids. I only got the privilege to know her for a few years but her passion for the environment, her love of birds and her friendly smile and wave will be in my memory forever. She was always thinking of others before herself and watching her strength while dealing with her diagnosis was inspirational. Her true strength and love of learning live on through her amazing daughter who I am privileged to call my friend. I have no words that will be adequate to describe her impact on those around her, or the power of her loss but remembering her brings to mind a quote from Washington Irving: “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”


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