Diana Lynn Cantrel

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Diana Lynn Cantrell Connor, the most gung-ho Aggie who never attended A&M, the most indulgent mother who never had her own child, and the toughest fighter who never threw a punch, died on Friday, Sept. 1 in Bryan, surrounded by family and friends. She was 61. Diana was born in Sweetwater on August 24, 1956. When she was two, her family moved to Cooper, where they lived until moving to Roswell, NM in 1967. In 1971 the family moved to Abilene, and Diana graduated from Cooper High School in 1974. She graduated from TCU in 1978 with a degree in home economics, after which she worked as a home demonstration agent for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service in Cleburne. In 1980 she moved home to Abilene to work as an electric living consultant with West Texas Utilities. Diana married Mike Connor in 1986, and in 1989 they moved to Dallas, where she worked for the Junior League. After moves to Tulsa in 1994 and Longview in 2000, the Connors settled in Bryan in 2003. Diana worked for the B-CS Chamber of Commerce from 2005 until 2011. Her outgoing personality brought great professional success and won her legions of friends at every stop along her life’s journey. That journey was never easy. At thirteen Diana was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, and over the decades endured two organ transplants, open-heart surgery, the loss of a leg, and countless hospital stays. Her steadfast perseverance in the face of adversity, and her refusal to complain about the lousy hand fate had dealt her, would be remarkable enough. But even more extraordinary is the fact that she never let her physical hardships define her. Faced with challenges that would defeat a lesser person, she viewed each health crisis as a nuisance to get past so that she could resume the urgent business of living. For Diana, living meant helping others. Unable to have her own children, she became a substitute mother to dozens of young people. She and Mike became dedicated boosters of the A&M Singing Cadets, and she was named an Honorary Singing Cadet, the group’s highest honor. She likewise fanatically supported the A&M women’s basketball squad, never missing a home game and frequently traveling with the team. The number of home-cooked meals she served to Singing Cadets and basketball players would be impossible to count. Diana also became momaway- from-home for many children of friends and relatives who attended A&M, including one needy cousin whose way she and Mike paid through A&M. As Diana’s health deteriorated, she summoned even greater determination to live with purpose and enthusiasm. An Aggie football trip landed her in a Nashville hospital, which mostly irritated her because she had to miss the game. Her many trips chaperoning the Singing Cadets included a tour to Boston and New York three months before her final illness. Only two weeks before her death, despite her family’s concerns, she traveled to Dallas-Fort Worth for a reunion with old Tulsa friends. Confined to a wheelchair, she insisted that her nephew Calvin show her his new TCU dorm room. The next day she attended her final sporting event, cheering the Texas Rangers on to victory over the Astros. Clearly, nobody could tell Diana Connor what to do, although she never hesitated to set the rest of us straight when she thought her way was the right way. Diana’s zest for life and her service to others were exceeded only by her devotion to her husband and best friend Mike. Few couples have ever shared so many of the same passions, and their marriage set an example for others to follow. Diana did not wear her Christian faith on her sleeve, but it enabled her to face the end with the same courage and resilience that characterized her entire life. Hers was truly a life well-lived, and she will be sorely missed by all who knew her. Diana was preceded in death by her father-in-law Harold Connor of Daingerfield and is survived by her husband Michael Connor; her parents Jimmie and Mary Lynn Cantrell of Abilene; her mother-in-law Laverne Connor of Bryan; and her brother Gregg Cantrell, sister-in-law Stephanie Cole, and nephews Calvin and Nolan Cantrell of Fort Worth. A memorial service was held at the First Baptist Church of Bryan on Thursday, Sept. 7 followed by a visitation. The family requests donations be made in her honor to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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