May 13, 1935 - February 16, 2021
Diana peacefully passed on to her Heavenly Father on February 16, 2021. She was born on May 13, 1935, in Riverside, California to Loyd H. and Elizabeth (Lindsay) Emert. She grew up in Riverside near her beloved grandparents enjoying the exceptional California weather and surroundings as well as innumerable family members and friends of the family. Diana spent the war years with her mother and two younger siblings, aunt, uncle, and cousins in Seattle, Washington. She moved to Texas with her younger siblings and father after he was discharged from the service. She attended Voth Rosedale School in Beaumont, Texas and graduated from Beaumont High School in 1953. She married Charles Wesley Newcomer while he attended Texas A&M University and worked at the museum on campus in College Station. After Charles’ graduation from A&M, they lived on a farm in Warren, Texas before moving back to Beaumont, Texas. Diana was a mother, freelance art teacher, cook extraordinaire, animal lover, artist, interior decorator and all around curmudgeon in the best sense of the word. She was preceded in death by her mother and father, older siblings Roy and Jacqui and younger sibling, Bill. She is survived by her younger sister, Bonnie Emert, children Mark Wesley (Wes Newcomer), grandsons John-Charles and Jacob Newcomer; Charles William (Will) and his wife Teresa (Bonds) Newcomer and grandchildren Claire and Stuart Newcomer ; and Molly (Newcomer) Akin and her husband Edward (Pete) and grandchildren Emily (Akin) Gilbert and her husband Matthew and Natalie Grace Akin. There is not an easy way to capture Mom’s 85 years. So grab a cup of tea or coffee and share with us our memories and thoughts of our mom, grandmother, friend and aunt as we celebrate a one of a kind woman.
Mom truly was one of a kind. Not even her adopted Texas could have held two of her. Always a collector of beautiful things be it paintings, furniture, music boxes, or animals who needed a dish of food, a scratch on the head or just a human who saw their need for companionship and spoiling, we have come to realize in the last week that mom was a collector of friends and acquaintances. From them we have learned that Mom was, quite frankly, and in all sincerity, unforgettable. We have been touched by the outpouring of love from all those at the Archbishop Liebold Little Sisters of The Poor where mom lived for the past 15 years and the stories that they have told us about her. From her witticisms, funny sayings that have changed the way they speak, to her caring and helping of other residents. Today we learned how she was fondly remembered by the cemetery employee she dealt with years ago. These were not just words of condolence but fond memories and stories told of their dealings with her and their enjoyment of her. The same went for the mortuary personnel. For all of them – we appreciate the time you took to tell of these memories of a woman who touched so many, many lives. While she barely brushed five feet three inches we have learned Mom was a giant of a person and ninety-nine percent of her was her enormous heart.
I got to spend the four days saying goodbye to my mom. She knew me longer than anyone else. She welcomed me to this world, held my hand through tough times, laughed with me through good times, sang my praises to all (literally, whether we knew them or not), taught me right from wrong, taught me about art and furniture, design and décor, building and plumbing. She hand painted Easter eggs like lady bugs for me to take to school for Easter parties every year. Mom handmade dance recital costumes for me every year for 11 years in a row (and I normally had at least five numbers – that’s thousands of yards of hemmed net ruffles), she did my hair and make-up. (Mom never stopped in helping the show run smoothly even when attending my University Sing where she braided hair for sorority sisters and advised on make-up). She sewed new ribbons on my ballet and pointe shoes daily when I had a quick change in the wings. She read Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod to me countless times before bed as well as The Land of Counterpane, and, as I got older, Oh Captain, My Captain. Mom taught me to cook and to use both spices and colors in abundance. She taught me that if I couldn’t say something nice to keep my mouth shut as well as to not judge another until I had walked in their shoes. Mom picked me up when I was down and jerked my feet back to the ground when I needed it. She taught me how to house train a puppy. She taught me how to help a cat have kittens. Mom let me rescue everything from a little crawfish about three quarters of an inch long to tadpoles, birds, rabbits and lizards. She taught me how to make a tractor with a wooden match stick, rubber band and an empty spool. She taught me to sew by surrendering fabric samples by the hundreds, yards of thread and many needles. She let me swim at every opportunity because she never learned how. Mom taught me it was perfectly fine to let a baby taught me how to dig potatoes and catch my first fish. She encouraged me to tell any boy I could do everything they could do and to believe it. She told me I could attend Texas A&M University in 1968 when girls were not even admitted. Mom laughed when my first grade teacher reported to her that I had told her (the teacher) that I could to go to A&M because my mom said so. I believe the teacher referred to me as “saucy”. I got that from Mom, too! Mom also laughed and supported me fully when the PE teacher gave her the note written on 2nd grade three line writing paper excusing me from PE written and signed Diana Newcomer in my best second grade pencil print.
Mom was a friend to my friends and a great friend to my brothers’ friends. She cooked their frog legs when the boys in the neighborhood brought them to her. She also taught those same boys never to kill anything in sport and that, if killed, it had to be eaten. Mom believed in kids getting dirty during play, building castles and forts out of boxes, returning Coke bottles for spending money, and riding bikes everywhere. She watched us in sports, checked our homework, helped make wedding dresses and hand beaded the one I fell in love with from a resale shop. Mom taught me how to forge an ID so my friends and I could go to a comedy as a bachelorette party. She trusted us not to abuse that lesson. She built a room out of 12 foot windows from a torn down school building and added a cast iron Franklin stove to heat it. She planted gorgeous roses and could grow any plant imaginable. She designed clothes in high school, worked in advertising as an 18 year old high school graduate for Sears, painted pictures commissioned by various people around southeast Texas. She restored statuary and taught me to appreciate estate sales. She introduced me to wonderful people like Bernice and Ferdinand Cropper. She taught me to refer to all adults as Mr. and Miss First Name as is the southern tradition. That went for all people regardless of their station in life, bank balance or position. She taught me you are never too old or too cool to kiss a loved one goodbye or tell them you loved them loud enough for others to hear.
I got the call Tuesday morning and spent hour final hours together holding her hand, remembering her colorful descriptive phrases knowing that during this past week when someone dropped the barbed wire fence between here and the North Pole that once again she would be fine as frog’s hair. I’ll forever carry our memories in my heart – our travels about Beaumont Texas in a brown Chevy Station Wagon decorating people’s homes, her adding my name to her business card even though I was only about four years old, her love for me, her family, her kids that she adopted like her own in our friends, grandkids, friends, pets, life, the world and everything thrown into her path. Thank you, Momma – for everything. For teaching me so much from how to make the world’s best chili to how to pot a plant or run water pipes.
From the perspective of a granddaughter – The sweetest memories make for the sweatiest of eyes! Natalie and I will never forget the pride Granna had in family. Even from a young age, I could tell by the way she would introduce Nat and me to her friends (and numerous strangers!). I will never forget romping through the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center with Nat and using our imaginations to busy ourselves as Granna brought statuary back to life. It was the coolest clubhouse EVER! Many games of school, shopkeeper and more were played. As I got a little older, she helped me organize the reading group with the young kiddos so I could continue to refine my teaching abilities. Granna could turn a runny egg and a saltine cracker into something richer than caviar but make any number of “ritzy” meals simply by sight – no recipes - with flavor profiles that crush any restaurant. She loved all animals – domestic and wild. I’ll never forget her bringing that sparrow back to life by meticulously stroking its breast all day to the point that when she opened the box a little more it flew out and into the living room ending up the TV cabinet to find refuge from Sadie and Samson (a Golden Retriever and Newfoundland). Golf lessons were another highlight. Granna and Nat sitting, slathered in sunscreen, under their umbrellas on perfectly clear days, while I perfected my putt. I could have made numerous holes in one but Granna stole the show. When summer adventures transitioned to winter rides to school, she would always have blankets and cocoa in travel thermoses waiting for Nat and me. One of my most recent and treasured memories will forever be helping her pick her dress for my wedding. Who would have guessed she would have picked the sassier of the two numbers! And with such colorful language! She looked beautiful. Her selflessness, intellect, compassion, curiosity, and can-do spirit have left indelible marks on more than one generation of women who will forever celebrate her.
From a granddaughter’s friend – I remember the Christmas I spent with Diana and her family. It was a delight for me to broaden my understanding of the Newcomer clan and be in the presence of family. Joy was in the air, but even more so, joy was in the hearts of all those there. While I didn’t get to know Diana long, I want to express my gratitude to her. Without her, my life would lack some of its joy and warmth. Those things, which she instilled in her children and grandchildren (for which I am forever grateful), hang stalwart in the air and watch over us. She was love, heart, laughter, generous, and made me feel at home.
From a son – Mom was truly a creator and teacher. She held art classes for the neighborhood kids, taught me about architecture and proportion, how difficult it is to paint waves and sunsets. She built sailboats with my dad and taught us to sail. She taught to take responsibility for our actions. She taught me how the Bible helps is in both good and bad times and told me that no one can claim the Fatherhood of God while denying the brotherhood of man. She taught me to fight through illnesses, injuries and the pain of difficult recoveries, something she was intimately familiar with. When I wanted to quit college and give up she told me there would be one of three outcomes - (1) death and it wouldn’t matter, (2) continue life without a degree, and (3) continue living with my degree. She said since I would probably continue living and do so for a long while, I might as well do it with a degree. Thank you Mom for not dodging the tough truths and making them simple.
Mom was mischievous. While she never used her artistic talents to make fake drivers licenses for me (this shows her wisdom!) she did love fast cars. The first street race I remember was her leaving a teenager behind the wheel of a hot rod in cloud of tire smoke when the light went green. The look on his face as a mom with her young kid in an Impala station wagon dusted him was priceless. Her ability to engage and encourage the neighborhood boys knew no end and she could take jokes as well as she could give them. She gave the “Squeezably Soft” (remember Mr. Whipple) nickname to a somewhat plump friend while we moved bricks for her (the floor of the window room). He replied he would rather be “squeezably soft” than be “hard as these old bricks” like she was. From that day forward, she was “Brick” to the neighborhood boys and she delighted in it.
Some of Mom’s greatest creations were from the kitchen. She made sure everyone’s birthday was their day. The celebrant got to pick breakfast, lunch and dinner and the kind of cake they wanted. She always went out of her way to make sure we understood how special we were. The cakes were always perfect in my mind, mouth and stomach. Another specialty – set aside half of the Thanksgiving turkey breast and make turkey enchiladas the following day. Those enchiladas and her cornbread were and are still near and dear to me and my friends’ hearts and stomachs. Her chili was the best – period. It tasted just as hot and good after a night in the refrigerator as it did fresh off the stove. She taught me the best way to cook was by smell, taste, and color rather than recipe because spices can vary. While I agree with the results, I wish she had written more recipes down!
From a nephew’s perspective – I loved my aunt. She was a great person. The earliest memories etched in my mind of her were going to the farm as a young child and her showing me how to feed the chickens and how to pump well water right from the hand pump in the kitchen. The farm was a magical place and my aunt made it that way. To me, one of the most memorable things about Diana was her voice. She always had a musical quality to her voice. Her voice was animated in a way which made it totally unique. When speaking with her, you knew that there was a great amount of thought and vision that was about to be expressed in a happy, imaginative way … a story of great interest. I remember she had a talent for giving nicknames. Mine was “Shorty”! I also remember her great cooking. Some of my fondest memories are of gathering at our grandparents. The meals we had, the conversation and laughter we all shared are still so fresh in my mind. We all can and will remember Diana lovingly.
And, finally another son’s perspective – Mom was a lovely little lady talented in many ways. She was a very good cook and taught me much of cooking and recipes. Chili was always my favorite of her dishes, and I would ask for it whenever I felt a sore throat coming on. She was artistic and could have done very well in art, having sold some custom paintings. She tried to teach the neighborhood boys art but we preferred to be outside. She instilled a love of books and reading to me and in many subjects.
So, we say good bye to the little lady, the titanium magnolia, the most wonderful mom, grandmother, aunt, friend and spirit who so touched the world and those in it. Though we cannot see you on a day to day basis – we will always have you in our hearts and every beautiful thing we see – be it art, flora or fauna, buildings, a meal, an expression, or written word – you will be right with us in that moment and more until we all again assemble together with our Lord.
In lieu of flowers, though she loved them wholeheartedly, donations may be made to The Archbishop Liebold Little Sisters of the Poor, 476 Riddle Rd, Cincinnati OH 45220 or The Alzheimer’s Association.