Diane Lynn (Fouch) Stark
Diane Lynn (Fouch) Stark, 65, of Prairie Village KS, passed peacefully into “the start of something different” on the evening of March 1, 2022. She was surrounded by family and friends, at Kansas City Hospice House in Kansas City, MO.
Diane arrived in the world in 1957 in Indianapolis, IN, to John Stanley (“Stan”) Fouch and Dorothy L (Van Lieu) Fouch. Diane was born third of four children and had two older sisters and a younger brother. Apparently, she was predicted to be a boy; this might explain why Stan and Dorothy weren’t prepared with a name for her. She went home with “baby girl” on her birth certificate.
Stan worked for IBM for most of his career and, as a valued employee, was transferred frequently. After Indianapolis the Fouches lived in Glen Ellyn, IL, Grosse Pointe, MI, and Poughkeepsie, NY before Stan’s final transfer brought the family to Leawood, KS.
Diane graduated in 1975 from Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, KS, where she excelled in academics and played flute in the marching, concert and symphonic bands (“The Rompin’ Stompin’ Raider Band”). After a brief stint at Kansas State University she transferred to the University of Kansas in Lawrence where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Cellular Biology in 1981. The following year she completed a second degree, a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology from the University of Kansas Medical Center. She was certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists in 1983.
Diane worked in the emerging science of medical technology for over 30 years. Much of that time was spent performing histocompatibility and tissue matching with the purpose of finding donors and recipients for organ transplantation. She also worked in the early days of the then-brand-new PCR technique, a DNA-based matching system. In her career she attended over 50 national and international symposiums on topics including molecular biology; infectious disease; genetics; paternity testing; statistics; forensics, bone marrow and solid organ transplantation; and laboratory techniques and regulations. During her career in the Kansas City area she worked for the Midwest Organ Bank (where many lifelong friendships began), Cross Clinical Labs (which spun off from the Midwest Organ Bank), and the brand-new Stowers Institute for Medical Research where she helped initiate the Genomics Core Laboratory. She then returned to the Midwest Organ Bank (now renamed Midwest Transplant Network). Finally, she worked at Physicians Research Laboratories, from which she retired from lab work in 2012.
In 1983, Diane married Stephen W. Stark, whom she had met in college. That year they welcomed their first child, Timothy Adam Stark, into the world. Two years and one day later the twins Ryan Daniel Stark and Sarah Marie Stark joined the family, with Ryan arriving first by 15 minutes. In 1987 the family purchased a home on Rock Creek Lane in Mission, KS. Years later Timothy purchased and remodeled the family home. Since 2017 Tim, his wife Ashley, and daughter Althea are carrying on the Rock Creek tradition. Though Diane and Steve divorced in 1995, both parents remained active in their children’s lives until Stephen’s passing in 2016.
Diane and Paul first met, very briefly, in the summer of 1996, and began dating in December 1998 after Paul moved to Kansas City from St. Louis. Almost nine years later, in September 2007, they were married in their backyard in Mission, KS. They enjoyed many adventures together, but of course had hoped for many more.
Diane led a rich and joyful life. She maintained countless friendships from grade school, high school, college life, and career. She delighted in music and loved, loved, LOVED to dance. She had a particular fondness for “the boys”, a.k.a. The Grateful Dead, and also for the music of Jethro Tull. However, she almost never declared anything a “favorite.” Ranking things was not something she felt a need to do. Anything and everything had the potential for enjoyment.
Diane had a passion for, and excelled in, writing in all aspects. If you received a card or letter from Diane, you probably still have it. Every word and sentiment were crafted specifically for you, and those words expressed perfectly what she meant to convey. To go with that, she was one of the most creative gift wrappers of all time. Opening a gift from Diane was such a pleasure one almost didn’t want to destroy the wrapping to get to the thoughtfully chosen present within. And since you usually got a card with that gift, well, it was a double bonus and an unforgettable experience.
About 10 years ago, Diane was first diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The unfortunate reality is that there is no reversal or “getting better” from COPD. Over the years, this condition resulted in many hospital visits. Regardless, whenever her health permitted, Diane resolved to enjoy her life to the fullest in the time she had left. This included an epic 5000+ mile road trip west through 10 states, which included numerous horseback rides and other adventures, all while wearing her supplemental oxygen. In 2019 she was overjoyed to witness the birth of her first grandchild. In 2020 she was thrilled to be able to walk her daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Last fall Diane and Paul were fortunate enough to be able to take one last road trip together, this time taking a couple of weeks heading east on a round trip to Virginia.
On Sunday, February 20, a trip to the emergency room culminated in a sequence of events which left Diane in a severely weakened state. On Friday, February 25, Diane made the decision to go onto hospice protocol, once it became clear that nothing more could be done which would allow her to return home to an acceptable quality of life. On Monday, February 28, Diane transitioned to the Kansas City Hospice House. Many visitors – family and friends — took the opportunity to sit by her side and speak with her over the next 24 hours. She passed peacefully on Tuesday evening, March 1. She was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, but that doesn’t even begin to convey the impact and influence she had in her time here on this planet.
Diane is survived by: Paul Walstrom, her husband of 14+ years (and partner for over 23 years); son Timothy Stark, daughter-in-law Ashley Silence, and beloved granddaughter Althea Stark (Mission, KS); son Ryan Stark and his partner Erin Byrd (Grandview, MO); daughter Sarah Stark and son-in-law Jon Rankin (Locust Grove, VA); sister April (Fouch) Cocanower (Fort Worth, TX); brother Eric Fouch (Lenexa, KS); nephews Michael Cocanower and Jon Cocanower; niece Marisa Jefferis; nephews Nick Fouch and Cole Fouch; cousin Cathy Angell; uncle Ron Van Lieu; cousins Mark Van Lieu, Bill Van Lieu, Norma (Van Lieu) Anderson, and Tom Van Lieu. Diane was predeceased by her mother Dorothy (Van Lieu) Fouch (1989) and father John Stanley Fouch (1990), and her sister Amy (Fouch) Cowley (2002). She was also preceded by cousins Kenneth Van Lieu (2006), Sharon (Van Lieu) Newman (2019), and Scott (“Scotty”) Van Lieu (2016). Stephen W. Stark, her former husband and father to Tim, Ryan, and Sarah, passed in April, 2016.
Per Diane’s wishes, there will be no funeral. A Celebration of Life is being planned, at a location and date to be announced.
Sometimes we live no particular way but our own
And sometimes we visit your country and live in your home
Sometimes we ride on your horses, sometimes we walk alone
Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
But the heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
from “Eyes of the World” (Garcia/Hunter)