Diana Marie Phelan


April 7, 1956  –  January 9, 2022


image of Diana M. Phelan

Diana M. Phelan

Diana M. Phelan died peacefully at Bridle Trails Senior Care home in Bellevue, WA after four years of fighting a rare form of sarcoma cancer.

She was born in and grew up near St. Louis, Missouri where she overcame a neurological hearing loss to become a member of her church choir. As a child she developed a deep love of nature and of Native American lore and culture.

She began her collage career at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. In 1974 her family moved to Washington State where she finished her collage education and received a bachelor’s degree in geologic science at Western Washington University.

She worked as an environmental geologist for most of her career, inspecting soil and water table samples for signs of carcinogenic contamination. She was a licensed inspector for asbestos and lead contamination in buildings as well. Many of her studies were highly praised and used by the EPA. When her geology career ended, she returned to school and received a degree in pharmacology, while volunteering with the American Red Cross in her spare time. Finally, before she had to retire for health reasons, she worked as a passport processor with CGI, a contractor with the Passport Agency in Seattle, WA.

Diana was an accomplished woodworker and gardener. She volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in the Yakima region. She remained curious and interested in nature, geology, and ancestry throughout her life. She went on a gold panning trip to Nome, AK, a personal trip to Bora Bora and several geologic field trips through the western US. Her dream was to visit her ancestors’ homelands in Ireland and Scotland.

Diana is survived by her elder sister, Carla Phelan, with whom she was very close and shared a life, a house, and multiple pet cats.

No immediate memorial is planned at this time, but a private celebration of her life may take place in early April, around her birthday. Those interested in attending such an event should contact her family via email: <cndphelan@frontier.com>. She asked that people donate to the charity of their choice rather than send flowers to her family. Her ashes are to be sprinkled in Yellowstone National Park according to her wishes.

3 Responses to “Diana Marie Phelan”

  • Kathy Troost says:

    There wasn’t anything that Diana couldn’t do! She gave her all to many new endeavors, including becoming a woodworker. I remember studying with her to take the Oregon geology exam, which she aced of course! When we were driving back from taking the exam I opened a jar of peanuts and she promptly informed me that the only thing worse than eating peanut butter was smelling peanuts. I’ve never forgotten that in these 30 plus years since the exam and always smile for Diana when eating peanuts or peanut butter. She was one of those rare passionate geologists who could actually identify rocks and we often tried to stump each other. I was usually humbled by her ability on that front and many others. When you worked on a project with Diana you could count on her accuracy, precision, organization, and thoughtful geologic interpretations. She was also passionate about cats and gardening, and she was fond of talking about her sister Carla of whom she was very proud. Good bye Diana. I will miss you and your strength, bravery, adventurous spirit, and passion.

  • Paula Fedirchuk says:

    This is sad news, and my thoughts are with Carla and Diana’s extended family, friends, and creatures alike.

    I knew Diana from her Herrera days and the years afterward during reunions and gatherings. I worked with, learned from, and spent field hours enjoying Diana. She probably didn’t realize how much she mentored me, and I always appreciated how special a person she was in the sometimes hectic and stressful consulting world! She was a calm, knowledgeable presence.

    She will continue to be celebrated every time I use my loop, marvel at a rock formation.
    Paula Fedirchuk

  • Carlos Herrera says:

    I was honored to have worked with Diana as a colleague at Herrera. She always put forward her best effort and was a warm caring person.
    My thoughts and prayers are with family and friends.

Leave a Reply

Please be respectful. Disrespectful comments will not be published

When you have successfully submitted a comment, look in the space above to see your comment.

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

If you do not see your comment, click HERE