Dianne Lynn (Stark) Henke (72) born October 15, 1948 returned to stardust on April 2, 2021 following a life full of reinvention and acceptance, especially true of her final five years living with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
Dianne grew up in Menasha, Wisconsin as the oldest of 10 children. She was educated at St. Mary’s School and continued her education at St. Norbert College, where she graduated with a teaching degree.
For the past 38 years, she and her husband, Brian Henke, consciously raised three children in a household abounding with love, acceptance, passion, and humor. In early motherhood, Dianne began a lifelong commitment to helping others. She devoted herself to community betterment and served on several inner-city task forces focused on crime, drugs and housing. Following a 2001 Mission Trip to Guatemala, she co-founded the non-profit, Global Partners: Running Waters, which focuses on bringing potable water to communities in Latin America. Concurrently, she actively promoted peace and justice in Latin America through lobbying and organizing groups to travel to close the School of the Americas (SOA).
From protesting and lobbying, she transitioned to the more private, yet profoundly revolutionary, acts of biodynamic gardening and beekeeping. As she explored each new aspect of herself, her love for the cosmos and for the diverse peoples it holds deepened.
In 2015, ALS started to unfurl a slow, yet continuous series of losses in physical ability; everyday became a new normal. Just as she had throughout her life, Dianne accepted each iteration of herself. And like always, she insisted on living each new day on her own terms. She was a fiercely independent acceptor. She fed herself until it became impossible. She maintained her extreme vitamin regime until it became impossible to swallow—then she chewed them. She refused to communicate through blinks when she could still use her voice. She accepted, but never gave up what wasn’t taken by the disease. While there is no elegance in ALS, she maintained dignity, grace, and unwavering positivity.
Dianne’s spirit is alive each time we make an authentic connection with someone different than us, every time we choose to live more consciously, every time we hug a tree.
She is survived by her husband Brian, her three children and spouses Elizabeth (Tito), Gordon (Jacki), JoLynn (Justen), three grandchildren (Andreu, Pau, Diana) and grand-dogs (Biscuit and Ripley), her nine Stark brothers and sisters and their families: Margaret and Mike Mullen (Wade and Matthew) James Stark Patricia and Dave McWaters (Stacey and Chelle) Linda and Scott Morey (Ryan and Kelly) Sandra and Brian Hale (Louis) Giles and Amy (Heidi, Molly and John) Francis Stark Robert and Sally Stark (Haley and Megan) Ann and Tim Rausch (Maddie, Johnnie, Erin, Eric, and TJ) plus the whole of humanity which she loved as family, and a universe full of hope.
A Celebration of Life will be held on July 3, 2021, at the funeral home, from 10 AM until the time of Dianne’s Funeral Service at 12:30 PM. A Reception will be held at the family’s home following Dianne’s Funeral Service. Please call Becker-Ritter Funeral Home at 262-361-1591 to R.S.V.P to the reception. Maps to the reception will be provided at the funeral home. Memorial donations would be appreciated to Global Partners: Running Waters. GPRW: Give the Gift of Clean Water
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