On Wednesday, March 10, 2021, Diane Deichmann Gabik, adoring Wife, unconditionally loving Mother, glitter-fueled GaGa, divine Diva, glowing EarHawt, lover of New Orleans, dancing Queen, and the embodiment of magic to all who had the fortune of meeting her, left us too soon at the age of 66.
Diane was born on September 13, 1954 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Thomas “Tommy” and Lorelle [Terry] Deichmann. Be joyful in knowing that she is once again dancing to “Mack the Knife” with her daddy, second lining with her magnanimous mother, and showing the angels how it’s really done alongside her best friend, George Swain. The quintessential New Orleans dame, she was a force to have both known and loved, leaving behind a trail of glitter and fun as she paraded through life.
A self-proclaimed “Mid-City Girl”, Diane grew up on Canal Street and loved sharing her childhood memories of getting dressed up to take the streetcar downtown for a day of shopping. Gloves and a hat were the encouraged attire, which suited her just fine. She attended Clifton L. Ganus and Louise S. McGehee School, before graduating from Grace King High School. Diane then attended Louisiana State University where she majored in Speech and thrived as a member of the Delta Kappa Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha. She then went on to graduate from the University of New Orleans with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications.
After leadership roles with both New Orleans CityBusiness and its sister publication in Lafayette, Diane felt called to shift her career focus to that of empowering women by using her voice to advocate and create opportunities for female-owned businesses. She published and edited her own bi-monthly publication, Acadiana Woman Magazine, which addressed the needs and issues of women in Southwest Louisiana. Involvement and accolades include her appointment as State Director of the Louisiana Business Women’s Association, Board of Directors for Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Bayou Vermilion District Commissioner, Award of Excellence by the Lafayette Mayor’s Commission on the Needs of Women, Ethics in Media Award by the Better Business Bureau, and the Career Achievement Award by the Connections Professional Women’s Association.
The piece of her legacy that she was most proud of was the one she left at First United Methodist Church in Lafayette, Louisiana. What started with teaching Sunday School shortly catapulted to becoming a member of the Board of Children’s Education, Director of Christian Ministries, opening a day school for downtown working mothers, facilitating a Wednesday night supper and education program, and community outreach to the urban neighborhood.
When the family relocated to Melbourne Beach, Florida, she joined the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce as Director of Membership, then Senior Vice President. She brought the Louisiana fundraising style to the Space Coast and showed them the best route to community outreach is having a party and making people feel good. She dedicated her focus to diversifying membership, small business education programs, and special interest Councils and Committees. Although she missed New Orleans dearly, living on an island between the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River brought a moment of stillness to her life and the gift of time to focus on family during her daughters’ high school years. Diane was the ultimate dance team mom who never missed a performance or competition—the one exception being in 2003, when Nationals was held over Mardi Gras. Diane did not miss Mardi Gras. It was also in Melbourne Beach that she took up one of her favorite hobbies, sailing! She served on the Board of Directors for the Melbourne Yacht Club as Rear Commodore.
"She is a New Orleans girl and New Orleans girls never live anywhere else and even if they do, they always come back. That's just the way it is.” -Chris Rose
In 2016, her husband, Koral, retired and together they moved back to her beloved New Orleans. There were sunset sails across Lake Pontchartrain on the Kiane, illustrious second careers as scene-stealing background actors, relaxing late night swims with friends in Lakeview, second lines with the Downtown Divas and Gents Social Aid and Pleasure Club (Diane was an Auxiliary Member and Koral her most enthusiastic cheerleader, ever-ready to hold her feathers at a second’s notice), and a million special moments reflecting on their beautiful life and knowing that they’d lived it fully. Koral has stated that he will forever picture her reaching out her hand to him and hearing her say, “Come dance with me.” And dance they did.
Regardless of whether you met her as Diane, Deeny, D, Diva, Mama Gabik, GaGa, or Little Meatball (as she was dubbed by Mandina’s throughout her childhood), and even if it was just a brief encounter, she left an indelible impression on your life. It could be because she gave a bit of herself to every person who crossed her path.
Chances are that the first time you met Diane, whether it was at a bar, church, a ZTA social, on the neutral ground, or pulling over on A1A after she flagged you down upon seeing your Saints bumper sticker (a very true story), she invited you to a party. There was no “?” at the end of that sentence, because it was more of a statement than an invitation. You said yes, because Diane Deichmann Gabik never let anyone say “no”. She didn’t allow it, though with her infectious grin and sparkling blues eyes, you didn’t want to, anyway.
Upon arriving at the party, you came to find out that it had actually been thrown together in a few hours and was being held in your honor. You undoubtedly went on to have one of the most memorable nights of your life. You didn’t even mind that she corrected your dancing or cajolingly scolded you for not wearing enough sequins. You fell in love with her because you could feel the genuine love she had for you. You remained forever grateful that you said yes.
Although we will never understand why she was taken too soon, perhaps the only explanation is that her unrelentingly giving spirit had expelled all that it could. She gave each and every one of us a piece of her until there was nothing left to give.
It is now our communal responsibility to take that gift she blessed us with and wake up each and every morning remembering to Live Like Diane:
Be unapologetically yourself, say YES to everything, say NO if it messes with your happy, dance with a stranger, eat the king cake, FaceTime your grandsons [family] regularly, don’t underestimate the power of brainstorming under a hair dryer, get to LSU games early enough for “Hold that Tiger,” be the friend that everyone knows will stick by you no matter what, always add the horn section, when the band starts just close your eyes and LIVE in that moment, and never hang up without saying, “I love you more.”
If we do this, Diane will never truly be gone. Her spirit will live on in the joy we feel, the beat of the music, the smiles shared with family and friends, and the stories we tell for countless generations to come.
In April 2017, she sent an email to her two daughters with the subject line, “My funeral instructions (to date) - Don't freak out - just save it.” This did not phase them at all as this was a classic Diane move.
"...I want it to be the best send off ever and a great party with a lot of laughter and people telling stories about me. I hope everyone will always remember it and it will make them smile when they do. That is what I want to leave behind - one last happy, special, meaningful, lasting memory!”
On Saturday, May 15, 2021, in New Orleans, we will send off our enigmatic queen, Diane Deichmann Gabik, in accordance with her wishes. This jubilant affair will also be available virtually. Please email LiveLikeDiane504@gmail.com
for event details.
Diane is survived by her adoring husband of 36 years, Koral Gabik; daughters, their spouses, and her grandsons, Kristina, Derek, and Bennett Vitrano and Kourtney, Kevin, and Kody Strickland; her stepdaughter, her spouse, and sons, Karie, Tim, Timothy, Ken, and Christopher Crooker; and her beloved puppy, Klara.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic & Assistance Foundation, https://neworleansmusiciansclinic.org/get-involved/donate/, in memory of Diva Diane Gabik.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Diane Gabik, please visit our floral store.