Diane Jean Nielsen-Pagnoni, age 62

Diane Jean Nielsen-Pagnoni, age 62, formerly of Rushford, wife of Raymond Pagnoni, Jr., of Carol Stream, Ill., passed on Friday, April 12, 2019, at home surrounded by family. After she survived West Nile Virus in 2006 and lost her mobility, she fought a battle with metastatic breast cancer starting in 2016.  Her wish at the end was to not linger or suffer, and by the grace of God, her wish was granted.

Diane was born at Naeve Hospital in Albert Lea, Minn., on January 25, 1957. She attended school from kindergarten through grade 5 in Glenville, Minn.; she and her family moved to Rushford in 1968 when her father bought Rushford Oil Co. She was confirmed in Rushford Lutheran Church in 1972, and she graduated from Rushford High School in 1975 and Winona State University in 1979 with a BS degree in music education. She worked at Standard Lumber in Winona after college. In 1985, she attended Albert Lea Riverland Technical College for a Travel Planner degree. In 1987, she worked as a reservationist for United Airlines in the Chicago area. She worked in different areas at United until 2006 when she took early retirement.

Her employment at United gave her and her family opportunities to travel extensively. She visited Hawaii many times and other areas all around the U.S. Favorite destinations she shared with her parents included Alaska and New Zealand. Her family members have wonderful memories of being together with her in several destinations, and they are thankful to her for making those trips possible.

Diane was always thinking of others and put them before herself. She enjoyed fishing up north with family members and playing tuba in various small brass groups. She dressed up as “Tootie” with the Winona Clown Club and enjoyed making kids at parades smile and laugh. She had passions for gardening and flowers and became an excellent engineer, adept at figuring things out for her life in a wheelchair. She was happy to help with her classmates planning their 40th class reunion and was happy to reunite with so many high school friends. Her family members enjoyed visiting her and always had great laughs during shopping trips and lunches. She was happy to get her adapted driving license and was very independent, driving herself to doctor appointments. She took excellent care of her husband and made sure their home was clean and cozy with food on the table. She enjoyed their trips to casinos and their visits and card games with his parents.

Diane is survived by her husband, Ray; her step-daughter, Mary; her mother, Darlene Nielsen; her siblings Susan, Ross (and AnnE), and Geraldine; her brothers-in-law Mark (and Jodi), and Mike (and Sue); her nephews and niece, Nathan (and Crystal and their children Parker and Olivia), David, Jordan, Bridget (and Neil and their children Anna and Maggie), and her mixed terrier, Trixie. 

She was preceded in death by her father, Larry Nielsen; paternal and maternal grandparents; and father-in-law, Raymond Pagnoni, Sr. 

She will be terribly missed – she is gone too soon.

A memorial service will be held in Diane’s honor at Rushford Lutheran Church on Saturday, May 4, at 2 p.m. with a visitation one hour before the service.