We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Baxter/Brainerd
Diane Mary Kotrba of Nisswa, Minnesota passed on at age 81 on June 11, 2022. She was born Diane Mary Courtright, to William N. and Marion L. Courtright, in Chicago, Illinois in 1940. In 1963 she married R. William (Bill) Kotrba in Skokie, Illinois. They were married 59 years, living in Skokie, Illinois; Hickory, North Carolina; and New Brighton, Minnesota. She enjoyed their lake home on Eagle Lake, in Deerwood, MN, and spending time on Lower Cullen Lake at the Little Pines Lodge, the family cabin in Nisswa, Minnesota.
She is survived by her husband Bill, daughter Ann Scovil (Dave), son Bill Kotrba (Sara) and two grandchildren Calvin and Mary Kotrba.
Diane earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in French at the University of Illinois and became a high school French teacher. Once her children were born, she took up her most noble and impactful profession, raising her daughter and son to be of good character, independent and productive adults. Diane was a stickler for grammar, which rubbed off on her own kids. Also her use of the French at home was common, particularly when she had reason to scold her kids or grandkids, it was often in French, “ca suffit mes enfants!”
Everyone knew Diane as an intelligent woman who continued her education, both informally and formally. She was an avid reader of fiction, especially Jane Austen and Louise Penny, and of modern-day periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, and Imprimis from Hillsdale College. In 1982, she completed her Master of Arts degree in French Literature at the University of Minnesota, while teaching French to students. Her study of French literature also fostered a keen interest in medieval history.
Diane had many creative pursuits. She excelled at container gardening and needlepoint, making countless heirloom gifts for her family and friends, including dozens of intricate and elaborate Christmas stockings. She loved to shop and enjoyed interior decorating, both interests she passed on to her daughter. At five feet tall, out of necessity, Diane became a talented seamstress and quite adept at shortening off-the-rack clothes that were too long.
She enjoyed and supported the musical arts. She spent many years as the district chairman of the Metropolitan Opera auditions, volunteering her time. Bill and Diane attended the local Opera Guild events and followed the Glenn Miller Orchestra around the world, during the time their son Bill performed with the ensemble.
Diane would be the first to admit that cooking was not her forte, nor interest. She leaned on a regular rotation of hamburgers, sloppy joes, spaghetti, BBQ chicken, and pork chops with au gratin potatoes. However, she perfected her mother-in-law’s recipe for toffee squares, which she made in large batches and generously shared with eager family and friends.
Diane loved to travel, making over a dozen trips to France. She also enjoyed local festivities including the Minnesota State Fair, which she attended annually, never missing the Creative Activities Building. From her father, Diane developed a passion for football; she could be found on Sunday afternoons watching the Chicago Bears, or the Vikings – begrudgingly.
Diane was a lifelong member of The First Church of Christ, Scientist. She shared her faith with her children and grandchildren.
The Kotrba family will be celebrating her life in a private service for the family.
Memorials can be made to the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, or in lieu of donations, Diane would be tickled for you to give a red geranium to a friend in her memory.