May 6, 1946-January 16, 2021
Diane Baptiste Williams, of Nashua, NH, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a cardiac event on January 16, 2021.
Those who knew her grieve her passing acutely and share profound gratitude to have basked in her love, warmth, joy, and laughter. Diane was treasured for her unbridled exuberance and her wholehearted embrace of life. She loved with abundance and without limit, reservation, or condition.
Diane truly valued the people in her life, above all things. Diane was boundless in her love for her “three girls”—her daughters Michelle Williams Buckman and Christine Rose Williams, and her cherished ten-year old granddaughter, Zoe Jane Buckman. Their searing grief is tempered only by their depth of gratitude for the immense fortune to grow within her unrelenting and unconditional love and support. Diane is remembered and mourned by her siblings Robert (Patricia) Baptiste, Richard Baptiste, and Marion O’Shaughnessy, her great aunt Evelyn Baptista Dukeman, six beloved nieces and nephews, nine grandnieces and nephews, numerous cousins and extended family. Diane treasured the friendships that sustained her and is mourned by a multitude of dear friends maintained across years and miles. In recent months, Diane formed a fulfilling and loving partnership with Steve Boucher, who grieves her absence.
Diane was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Dorothea and Manuel Baptiste, and grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, graduating from Lexington High School. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and her Master’s Degree in Special Education from Lesley University. Her career as a special educator spanned nearly five decades, multiple states, and thousands of students, and it is incalculable how many lives she impacted. She taught for nearly three decades in the Nashua School District at Main Dunstable Elementary and Mount Pleasant Elementary, and countless peers consider her a dear friend, mentor, and inspiration. To her, every student was special and deserving of commitment and patience. She infused her classrooms with joy and love, seeing each of her students in their whole human dignity, teaching meditative breathing to help them feel calm, always carrying empathy for the challenges they faced.
As a military spouse, she raised her daughters together with their father and her former husband Stephen Williams as the family moved across the country, embracing each new adventure. Mom was an unwavering constant, guiding her daughters to adapt and embrace new people and places, teaching them to “bloom where you are planted.” Nurturing their creativity and curiosity, she proudly made a home where they could grow into their unique and distinct selves. As a Mom, she was steadfast in her pride, support, and guidance at every stage, joyfully celebrating the unfolding of their lives and always holding them up through hardships.
Diane (“Gram”) was an unabashedly proud and joyful grandmother. She matched Zoe’s zest for life, limitless energy, and unbridled enthusiasm. Gram and Zoe were constantly laughing and creating—crafts, games, gifts or food. Despite the geographic distance and recent pandemic, she made a heroic effort to stay connected, learning the names of Zoe’s friends, favorite online games and even K-Pop bands. Gram shared her love of sweets with Zoe, along with her baking tips. Gram was always sending texts, letters, and packages, constantly reminding Zoe of her genuine, deep pride and love – “to the moon and back.” Gram genuinely appreciated Zoe’s ideas, perspective, and personality. She reminded her to stay true to herself and modeled that behavior for her granddaughter.
As Mom and Gram, Diane’s expectations were never prescriptive, rather grounded through teaching and example that her three girls should walk in the world with kindness, generosity, humility, commitment, integrity, and love, and with the fervent hope that they might live lives of joy.
A NH Master Gardener with an extraordinary garden of her own, Diane was proud to tend and care for her corner of the world, to make her contribution to this earth a beautiful one, a metaphor for the kind of life she lived. Recently retiring from teaching, she also found deep joy in travel, including trips to family homelands in Madeira and the Azores, as well as Iceland, Italy, and Costa Rica. She was healthy and vibrant – when not in her garden, she was most often active and with her beloved friends—walking, hiking, practicing yoga, and biking. In the last few weeks of her life, she had been ebulliently enjoying time with Steve in Maine, hiking or cross-country skiing nearly every day.
Diane exemplifies a life well lived. She loved true and she loved so, so well. She understood the importance and cumulative power of small acts of kindness. She revered nature’s wonder and expressed constant gratitude for the extraordinary gift of this life. Her endless acts of devotion and love extend through years, miles, and within all those who knew her. Her legacy lives as she did—vibrant, true, and full with love.
A small funeral Mass will be held in the Spring, and a larger celebration of Diane’s life will be planned for later in the year when we can gather in larger numbers.
In lieu of flowers, we encourage donations to the following charities she had indicated: The Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and to the NH Master Gardener Program through the UNH Cooperative Extension.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Diane (Baptiste) Williams, please visit our floral store.