Bierwagen, Diane (Fischer), beloved wife, mother, grandmother (Mimi), sister, and friend, age 78, passed away peacefully on January 4, 2020 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. She passed away in the presence of her loving husband and daughters, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s.
She was born in Columbus Ohio on May 15, 1941 to Jack and Dorothy (Schlueter) Fischer. Diane spent a very happy childhood with her parents and sisters in Denver, CO, Stratford CT, Brookfield WI, and Elkhart, IN where she graduated from Elkhart High School. She attended Valparaiso University, majoring in Education and Mathematics, with a minor in German. As with everything Diane put her mind to, she was an extremely hard working and accomplished student, a leader in student activities, and active member of the Alpha Xi sorority. At Valpo she made many lifetime friends. She met and fell in love with Gordon, and they married in Mount Prospect, Illinois in August 1964 - the beginning of a long and happy 55-year marriage, full of love and adventures.
After teaching for 3 years in Ames, IA, she and Gordon had three beautiful children. Diane spent 13 years as a stay-at-home mom, and as an active community member in Homewood, IL, participating in the Homewood PTA, Homewood Junior Women’s Club, and Meals On Wheels, among other activities. In 1980, she returned to teaching math in the community where she lived, at Flossmoor Junior High, for 10 years. In 1990 she and Gordon moved to Fargo, ND where Gordon became a Coatings Science professor at North Dakota State University (NDSU). She taught in her new community, at Fargo South High School, for another 14 years. In 1996 she earned a Master’s degree in Educational Counseling from NDSU. Throughout her entire career, she was a highly sought-after and respected teacher, having a reputation as a smart, patient, kind, and dedicated teacher and colleague. She was beloved by students and parents alike. She was a firm believer in the power and importance of public schools, and arts and music education.
At a very early age, she demonstrated a prodigious talent on the piano. She was an accomplished pianist throughout middle school and high school, winning many awards and competitions, and performed concertos with her high school orchestra. For her entire life, she delighted her friends and family with her performances of challenging piano repertoire: Scott Joplin piano rags (her children’s favorite), Chopin, Debussy, Beethoven, Mozart, and Weber, among others. In her retirement she was able to continue her piano playing, learning new and challenging music into her 70’s. She also enjoyed tennis, bridge club, book club, PEO, gardening, and visiting with her children and grandchildren. She and Gordon were blessed with many domestic and international travel opportunities, and made many friends overseas. She was the best wife, mother, and sister, and was a beloved lifetime friend to many. We miss her beautiful smile every single day.
She is preceded in death by her parents and brother-in-law Kenneth Gust. She is survived by her devoted and heartbroken family: her husband Gordon, her sisters Marilyn (John) Ruck and Susan Gust, her in-laws Paula and Bill Otto and Ellen and Fred Meyer, her children Erik Bierwagen (Laura) of Redwood City, CA, Lisa Bierwagen (Ryan Rice) of Minneapolis, MN, Krista Reese (Kristopher) of Centennial, CO, and her beloved grandchildren Noah, Alex, Jack, Colin, Zach, Timmy, Kate, and Hannah. Alzheimer’s stole her from her us too soon, but we are relieved that her soul is finally at peace.
A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday January 19, 2020 @ 4:00, at Windcrest Senior Living Community, High Line Overlook Building, Red Rocks Room, 2975 Summer Wind Lane, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129
In lieu of flowers, the family gratefully requests that memorials be sent to Valparaiso University to support the Diane Bierwagen Memorial scholarship, established to support young women interested in studying math and education. Donations can be sent to Valparaiso University, Office of Advancement, 1100 Campus Drive, Valparaiso, IN 46383, or donate online at give.valpo.edu, with “Diane Bierwagen” in the special instructions.