Diana Christine Fredericks (Didi) Waltman, 91, passed away on Sunday, June 30 with all four of her children gathered closely around her at the Stonebridge Senior Living Community in Skillman, N.J. She fiercely loved life. She lived life to the very fullest.
Didi was born in Buffalo N.Y. to James Torrey Fredericks and Alice Sibyl Lachmann Fredericks. As was her habit, Didi arrived early. Her parents were visiting Buffalo to attend the theater and rushed to the hospital mid-performance. The maternity ward at Buffalo Hospital was still under construction. With no available newborn incubator, Didi spent her first days in an instrument sterilizer.
Influenced by her father’s love for hiking, canoeing and camping, Didi spent childhood summers bushwhacking and portaging through the Canadian wilds with her dad and brother Jim. She was also influenced by her European mother’s love for the arts, starting piano training at age 3 and maintaining a lifelong passion for classical music. Her father insisted she and her brother attend the “farm” school, just outside of Bradford, PA, and they were called “the Agricola” by other students upon transferring to Bradford High School. Didi excelled in academics and attended Smith College, majoring in Math and Art History, and graduating in 1949.
Didi saw the positive beauty in every person and situation. She was a generous friend and a dedicated member of every community in which she participated. She was a doer, with abundant energy, and she applauded this trait in others. Didi was proud to work for the Princeton University Music Department for 14 years, and in that time attended every orchestral concert and student rehearsal.
Upon retirement, Didi became a volunteer docent and then co-chair of the docent committee at the Princeton University Art Museum. She also became an avid post-retirement student, taking 2 to 3 university classes each year, focusing on Art and History. She traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula with Princeton’s Gillett Griffin to study the Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza.
Didi loved to travel and organized numerous adventures through Europe, Canada and the American West. Preferring to travel off the beaten path, she steered her husband, children and friends onto French canal barges, Greek fishing boats and Norwegian mail boats. She hiked Canadian glaciers, Norwegian fjords and the Samaria Gorge on the island of Crete.
In their final years, Didi and her husband Bob moved to Stonebridge, proud members of the ‘pioneer’ cohort of first residents. Didi was deeply grateful for all the dear friends and activities at Stonebridge. She quickly became involved with the Executive Committee, Program Committee, Stonebridge Singers and numerous cultural and political groups. A passionate political progressive and strong women’s advocate, Didi engaged in political discourse with zeal.
Family was the center of Didi’s world, and Didi was the heart and soul of her family. She was the voice on the phone that could right the world. She believed the world was inherently good. She made the world a better place.
Didi is predeceased by her husband, John Robert (Bob) Waltman. She is survived by her daughters Susan Waltman, Sally (Bay) Waltman and Martha O’Connor (and spouse Michael), and by her son James Robert (Jim) Waltman (and spouse Alicia) as well as by her eight adoring grandchildren Jack, Diana (Annie) and Matthew Simpson, Kelly, Duncan and John Patrick O’Connor, and Emma and James Torrey (Jimmy) Waltman.
Interment will be held privately. Arrangements are under the direction of the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home. A celebration of life ceremony will be held at Stonebridge at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Emily’s List.