Diane Rae (Wallahan) Barber, age 53, of Branson, MO, passed away Friday, August 14, 2015, at Cox Medical Center Branson less than 12 weeks after being diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer.
Diane was born March 21, 1962, in Shakopee, MN, to Franklin J. and Mary Jane (Goodin) Wallahan. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to Rapid City, SD, where Diane grew up and discovered her love for the arts. Graduating from Stevens High School in 1980, she was very active in acting, singing, dancing, and performing music, studying both piano and guitar. At the Academy of Dance in Rapid City, she learned ballet, tap, jazz, and modern, and eventually worked there as an instructor and choreographer. After high school, Diane performed as a featured singer and dancer at Worlds of Fun Theme Park in Kansas City while earning a B.M.E. Degree in Music Therapy and Voice from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS, in 1986.
Thirty years ago, on September 7, 1985, Diane married Jim Barber, another Rapid City native with a love for the performing arts. The couple resided in Nashville, TN, for two years before relocating to Bucks County, PA, where she earned her M.Ed. in Dance Education from Philadelphia’s Temple University in 1989. After receiving her Master’s Degree, Diane worked as a registered Board Certified Music Therapist for Kardon Institute of Music for the Handicapped through 1995.
She remained active in musical theater, devoting several years of acting study in New York City with the Lee Strasberg Institute, Terry Schreiber Studio, as well as professional vocal training under the direction of Patricia Carey and Robert Marks. As an actress, Diane played leading roles in many theatre productions in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Branson, Missouri. Her favorite roles included Maria in “The Sound of Music,” Eliza in “My Fair Lady,” Dolly Levi in “Hello Dolly,” Kathleen in “A Christmas Snow – Live” co-starring with actor Muse Watson, and an ensemble player in the world-premier musical “Texas Flyer” written by and starring country music artist Larry Gatlin.
In addition to the performing arts, Diane was a skilled seamstress, costume designer, and award-winning, licensed Certified Interior Decorator, owning and operating her own Decorating Den Interiors business for 17 years.
In 1999, Diane and Jim moved to Branson, MO, where Jim had worked in previous years. Since that time, they have been active members of the community in a variety of ways. In 2001, Diane gave birth to their daughter Jessica, now 14, and has consistently fed her mind and spirit to live an “I’m third lifestyle,” putting God and the needs of others as most important. Diane exemplified this philosophy through her participation in development and leadership of Vacation Bible School and youth Chorister programs at First Presbyterian Church in Branson the past several years. Sharing her faith with area youth through the arts was a very personal mission for Diane, and she is proud of each and every individual she had the pleasure of mentoring.
Diane is survived by her husband Jim Barber and daughter Jessica Barber, both of Branson; her mother Mary Jane Wallahan of Forsyth, MO; sister Kim Wallahan of Branson; brother Jay (Kim) Wallahan of Rapid City, SD; in-law parents Glenn and Ardie Barber of Rapid City, SD; sister-in-law Nancy Evans of Truckee, CA; brother-in-law Bill (Kristi) Barber of Rapid City, SD; nephew Leslie (Ashley) Sees of Stowe, PA; niece Leilani Sees and her son Aiden of Branson; nephew Taylor Sees and his daughter Zoe of Branson; niece Kayla Evans of San Diego, CA; niece Jamie Evans of San Francisco, CA; as well as her “adopted” family Ginny and Bill Hamble of Kansas City, MO; Sabrina Hamble of Wichita, KS; and Heidi Hamble-Pulford of Shawnee Mission, KS. Diane was preceded in death by her father Franklin J. Wallahan.
Diane’s Life Celebration will be 11:00 a.m. Saturday, August 22, 2015, at First Presbyterian Church of Branson. Rev. Tom Willcox will officiate. A private graveside service will be held in Ozarks Memorial Park Cemetery. Flowers may be delivered to First Presbyterian Church of Branson.
Arrangements and cremation are under the direction of Cremations of the Ozarks.
The Skaggs Foundation has established the Diane W. Barber Palliative Care Memorial Fund in order to realize Diane’s wish of developing a quality, palliative care facility for the Branson Tri-Lakes Area. To honor Diane’s memory, in lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made via WeLoveDiane.com.