Diane May Benedict Simonsen, 61, died suddenly December 27, 2017 at home shortly after returning from a major surgery, with her husband and sister at her side.
Honoring her wishes, there will be no calling hours or funeral services. The family will hold a private memorial service in the near future. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Humane Society of Yates County, the Dundee Volunteer Ambulance Corps, or the Dundee State Troopers would best represent Diane’s wishes. The latter two organizations were nothing short of amazing in their tireless efforts to revive Diane on the night of her passing.
Diane was born Jan. 3, 1956 at S & S Hospital in Penn Yan to William and Marilyn (Inscho) Benedict; she was their fourth daughter. Diane grew up in the local area, graduated from Dundee Central School in 1974, and went to Auburn Community College. Her main career goal and interest at the time was flying. During high school, she took many lessons at the Dundee Flying Club Airport and had earned her small-plane pilot license by high school graduation. She was accepted to Emery Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida but matters of cost and her mother’s wishes changed her direction. She worked at Soldiers and Sailors Hospital, the Lake Country Shopper, and finally as a supervisor at Yates County DSS where she had submitted her retirement, to be effective Jan. 5, 2018, as Principle Welfare Examiner.
Diane was a talented artist and avid gardener. She used her talents to design and grout all of the tile work in her home and build many high rock terrace gardens around her property that were impressive in their structure and beauty.
Diane was intelligent and studious. She was often working on more than one book at a time and reading and utilizing all of the appropriate laws and regulations applicable to her work at DSS. She was also computer savvy and enjoyed playing World of Warcraft with her son and nephew, and was better than even most teenagers at the game. Diane enjoyed playing cards with her husband and family, and loved their company.
Diane exemplified altruism throughout her life. At a young age, she began caring for cats, dogs, ponies, a goat, and horses. While still in high school she bought a Great Dane she named Maude. Diane built a fence for Maude who shortly thereafter provided 10 puppies for her to raise. Diane loved riding her favorite horse Scout and for a time she raised thoroughbreds. Diane enjoyed some success in racing her horses at the Finger Lakes Racetrack, and received a percentage of their winnings.
Diane was very involved with her younger cousins and her eight nieces and nephews. She spent a great deal of time taking them places, entertaining them and always used her creative and artistic talents to make their birthdays and holidays special. She was the absolute favorite Aunt whom they could rely on to talk to about their problems and projects; strong relationships that have continued throughout their adulthood.
Diane was a beautiful woman in every sense of the word as she gave without consideration to herself and identified the value and decency in any individual. She diligently tended to her son with Down Syndrome until her passing, for some time operated a family care home, and dedicated over 25 years of her life to those in need at Social Services. Diane personally bought clothes, presents, food, and even Christmas Trees for those she knew who were less fortunate, she took adults with mental disabilities out to dinners and activities, and she performed countless other acts of kindness that most are unaware of because she did so without ever seeking any acknowledgement or recompense. Diane did these things because it gave happiness and dignity to others and in turn, it gave her remarkable joy. She instilled the values of compassion and empathy in her sons, and demonstrated this daily with her unyielding benevolence. Her sons’ worlds always revolved around their mother and continue to this day.
Surviving her are her husband, Thomas Simonsen; and sons, Brett Baker of Canandaigua and Mark Baker at home; step-children, Tom Simonsen and Christine (Simonsen) Mickelsen; five step-grandchildren and four step-great-grandchildren of Penn Yan; three very close sisters, Sheryl Benedict, Judith (Charles) Voisey, and Susan (John) Flood; along with several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Arrangements were entrusted to the Baird Funeral Home, 36 Water St. Dundee; online condolences can be sent by visiting www.bairdfuneralhomedundee.com.