Antique Vintage 04

Diane Paustian

March 15, 2022


Elizabeth Diane Thomas Ware Paustian, Feb. 24, 1929-Mar. 15, 2022

Our beloved mother, 93, passed peacefully of lung cancer on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, in Longmont, Colorado, at her daughter Dana Ware Willett’s home. She was surrounded the preceding weeks by her adult children and was cheerful and comfortable to the end with the great help of Trail Winds Hospice.

From the start Diane was headstrong, intelligent, and determined. Diane was raised during the heart of the Great Depression in Kansas City, Missouri, and in Grosse Pointe, Michigan to Lewis and Opal Thomas (both deceased). She and her sister Carolyn Sue Thomas (deceased) moved 16 times in as many years as Lew Thomas worked to build the Fruehauf Trailer Company prior to and during World War II. When Diane was age 14, the family moved to Omaha where Lew founded and served as CEO of Omaha Body and Equipment Company (OBECO). Diane attended Brownell School, Bradford College, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in Mathematics, and she was actively involved in the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. It was at UNL she met Frederick (Fritz) Ware. Fritz and Diane were married in 1950, settled in Omaha, and had five children: Frederick Abbott Ware (Julie Cates); Mary Diane Ware Treloar, (deceased); Sally Elizabeth Ware Waters (Susan Waters); Thomas Newbranch Ware (Naomi Craven Ware); and Dana Louise Ware Willett (Jim Willett). She is also survived by ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

She spent thirty years in Omaha, managing a growing family, and later became a real estate agent and managed rental properties. She moved to Bigfork, Montana in 1983 with daughter Mary to operate The Grand Hotel, a restaurant and inn. Mary was killed in an automobile accident in 1990, and Diane raised Luke Treloar, Mary’s eight-year-old son. After Luke was grown, Diane moved back to Omaha to be near her other children. There, she became reacquainted with widower Fred Paustian, who had not only been a medical colleague of Fritz Ware’s but had also been a member of Fritz and Diane’s wedding party. Diane and Fred quickly fell in love and were married in his home in Omaha in 2009, attended by dozens of children, grandchildren, and family and friends. Fred Paustian died in 2014. Diane stayed in Omaha in an independent living apartment until her move to Dana’s Longmont home in the winter of 2022.

Throughout her life, Diane was highly skilled at many endeavors, including architecture, design, finance, fashion, politics, and the arts. While concurrently putting her husband through medical school and raising five children, she worked as a teacher (in a one-room schoolhouse), became renowned as a costume maker in Omaha’s theater circle, taught herself classical music and opera appreciation, excelled at chess and bridge, restored antiques, designed and built the family home (a five story redwood landmark on North River Road in Omaha), led alternative energy policy efforts, bought/renovated/resold real estate investments, taught herself financial investing, and became an expert at doll collecting and restoration. All while painting, cooking, sewing, and always reading.

In her final days, Diane commented she wished she could draw up plans for one more home renovation, design and sew one more set of doll clothing, or paint one more picture. Despite rapidly failing vision and suffering many underlying ailments, she was actively creative in her mind until the very end. She told her children, whatever this next phase is for her spirit, the first thing she’d like to do is build a house.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Flathead Valley Community College Foundation for the benefit of the Mary Treloar Endowed Scholarship Fund, A celebration of life will be held later this year.

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