BINGHAM LAKE, Minn. — Diane Marie (Downs) Bennett, 59, passed away Sunday, May 31, 2020, at her home in rural Bingham Lake.
Loving God and loving people. Diane epitomized these two things. Fitting that she would pass away on a Sunday after attending “virtual church” and surrounded by her family in the house she helped build. Diane’s journey began as she was born to Maxwell and Margel Downs April 16, 1961, just minutes after her twin brother, Dennis came into the world, with her brother, Michael waiting at home. Six years later she would welcome a sister, Patricia. Diane was a self-described tomboy, spending whatever time she could outside with her brothers. At the age of 11, Diane was sent to Bible camp and cried the whole way there. It was at this place that Diane chose to love God because he first loved her and asked Jesus to be her Savior. She was at Bible camp sitting on a rock when God became her rock. She was later baptized at First Baptist Church in Chippewa Falls, a place that nurtured her and cared for her needs, including providing a ride for her to church each week.
Diane graduated from Chippewa Falls High School (Chi-Hi) in 1979 and started attending St. Paul Bible College with the goal of being a missionary teacher. Two years later, she moved to Phoenix, Ariz., to complete her elementary education degree at Southwestern College. Diane moved back to Chippewa Falls and taught third, fourth and 5th grade (at the same time!) for three years at the Christian school.
It was in her third year that she met the love of her life, Craig. She rattled his cage when they met at his sister’s wedding and they spent the next six months dating long-distance by letters, telephone calls, and visits as Craig was driving truck from Windom to Chicago. They were engaged May 11, and married Aug. 9, 1986. They spent 33 years and 10 months loving, cherishing, and treasuring one another as they vowed they would. Diane and Craig moved out to the family farm in Bingham Lake and began their business and ministry ventures together. Diane learned a few new jobs as she worked alongside Craig, including the chief financial officer for the farm and bookkeeper for their trucks in Bennett Trucking. Her role in the family trucking company changed as she became the Office Manager in Windom and worked with drivers and brokers for over 25 years.
Her favorite job, however, started in 1988 when Colin Lee entered the world. Tyler Steven came in 1990 and Brittany Marie in 1993. She loved her children well and truly loved supporting them in whatever they were pursuing, whether sports, music, academics, farming, or chicken-raising. She had a knack for planning the best family vacations and enjoyed traveling to new destinations most. Twice, her travels took her overseas to see her nieces, Melissa and Megan, graduate from high school in Kenya. In 2000, Diane went back to school and earned her degree in parent education. She was hired to teach ECFE in Windom, a program she had loved for many years, and was able to coordinate the program the last few years of her life. Diane had the absolute privilege and joy of teaching her grandchildren through this program as well.
The birth of her first grandchild, Emmalyn Grace, was the first motivation Diane had to begin stepping down from her abundance of job titles and some responsibilities. Miciah Steven added to that desire and Diane had almost reached her true dream job of watching her grandkids every day. Instead, she was able to make the most of every opportunity with them as they visited one another often. Kamryn Marie made her appearance last spring and brought much needed joy and smiles.
Cancer struck Diane in both 1996 and 2018. Both times melanoma, but the second time it was already stage four. She battled courageously through endless appointments at Mayo and the ups and downs of cancer medicine. It was her first diagnosis and survival which connected her to Relay for Life. There she worked with her team to organize fundraisers and was often on the planning committee for each year’s event. This also led to her organization of Coaches V. Cancer with Windom athletic programs.
Diane became a member of First Baptist Church in Windom upon her marriage and poured herself into ministries as she was poured into by so many. She joined Craig in leading youth group and senior high Sunday school for many years where she shared the difference God made in her life. Her love of teaching also drew her into giving children’s sermons, leading VBS, nursery, being a C.E. committee member, and eventually directing the AWANA program until this spring. It was here that she was most often able to share her testimony of loving God and how He desires a relationship with each person. Diane also had a gift for music, which she shared through worship team, choir, and special music.
All of these life events are scrapbooked, of course, as she adored capturing these moments on her camera and had a gift of preserving them. She was rarely away from her family, but scrapbooking weekends took precedence, even during harvest. She is now away from her family and her body, but at home with the Lord.
Diane is survived by her husband, Craig; her children, Colin (Katie) Bennett, Tyler (Cortney) Bennett, Brittany Bennett; her grandchildren, Emmalyn, Miciah, and Kamryn Bennett; her siblings, Michael (Mary) Downs, Dennis (Jodi) Downs, Patricia Foss; her parents, Maxwell (Marjorie) Downs and Margel Little; and all of her nieces and nephews.
Diane is preceded in death by all of her grandparents as well as Lyle and Lillian Bennett, and Floyd “Bud” Little.
A private family celebration of life service for Diane will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday, June 8, at the First Baptist Church in Windom, with Pastor Gary Wiens officiating. Burial will follow in Lakeview Cemetery in Windom, Minn.
Visitation will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 7, at the LaCanne Family Funeral Home in Windom.
With the service being a private family event, individuals should stay inside their vehicle at the church and listen to the service by tuning their radio to FM 99.9. A live stream of the service will be available on LaCanne Family Funeral Home’s Facebook page starting at 10:30 a.m. Monday, June 8. The service will be recorded and available for later viewing.
Condolences can be sent online to: www.lacannefuneralhome.com.
Funeral arrangements are under the care of the LaCanne Family Funeral Service in Windom.
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