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Born: Mar 31, 1943

Date of Passing: Oct 06, 2022

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March 31, 1943 - October 6, 2022

Suddenly and fiercely, our beloved mother, grandmother, sister, aunty, friend, and tireless advocate, Helen Dianne Cooper (née White) died on October 6, 2022. Her daughters, Gerri, Jill, and Tricia were with her. They would like to express their gratitude to all of the nurses, doctors, and health care personnel on the fourth floor of the Victoria Hospital. The girls' shock and grief, and Dianne's comfort were cradled and cared for by all of the staff they encountered. She called them angels and they were. Her two nieces, Jessica Beachell and Erin Malkoske, who she called the "nursies", used their medical expertise to help advocate for Dianne's care, and were a valuable source of support during her last days (and always).
Dianne is survived by her three daughters Gerri, Jill and Tricia. She deeply loved both her sons-in-law Geoff Ripat and Sam Vint, who were constantly in competition for the title of "Number 1" son. She was a loving and devoted grandmother to Maureen, Sam, Cooper and Isaac. She will be missed by her brother Don White (wife Patty and daughter Michelle), brother Wayne White (wife Faye, daughters Jessica (Scott), Erin (Brett), sister Beth Quesnel (husband Bob, son Patrick, daughters Amy and Laurie), sister-in-law Merle Robinson (daughters Terell (Rick) and Kelly), nieces Shelley, Sherri (Peter), and Christy (Dave) and her adopted Neufeld family (Hank, Betty, Jacquie, Dave, Rebecca (Rachel), and Charlie).
Dianne was born on March 31, 1943, and her early life was spent in Lyleton and Melita, Manitoba with her parents and three siblings. Her parents' work on the farm taught her to appreciate and love the land and all its offerings. Her mother's gardening, canning, and taking care of her family and all the "hired men" was a constant display of hospitality, reuse, and never throwing anything away. Growing up in a small town and the strong community and sense of generosity meant that she always cared for others and noticed those around her.
She left home at 16 and lived in residence at the University of Manitoba while completing her education degree. At 18, she became engaged to the love of her life, Keith Cooper. They started their working life together in Morden, Manitoba, before a brief stay in Minnedosa where their girls were born, and finally settling in Winnipeg. Dianne's teaching career was a short stretch of a long professional life. She approached subjects differently than many others at the time, using critical literacy before it was even part of the educational vernacular. After teaching, she took on many leadership roles both professionally and as a volunteer. She co-founded Project Peacemakers, worked as the Executive Secretary for the United Church of Canada in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. She volunteered on the Board of Regents at the University of Winnipeg; was the United Church representative at the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, and the Acting Speaker of the United Church of Canada's All Native Circle Conference. Dianne felt privileged to be involved in numerous national and international conferences that examined the United Church's role in peacemaking and social justice. A pivotal experience for her was participating in the Witness for Peace program, where she spent time in war zones in Nicaragua documenting the experiences of villagers and returning to publicize the events that many Canadians were unaware of.
Although Dianne was not an ordained minister, she was the preferred officiator of many weddings and funerals because of her inclusive approach to faith and celebration and the way she personalized each gathering.
In more recent years, she spent time caring for and cheering on her grandchildren, working with incarcerated women and new Canadians, and writing countless letters to the editor about the many issues that she felt were important. She was well-known for her strong opinions and her willingness to say hard things. Her tough, no-nonsense approach, combined with her deep commitment and passion for justice made her a force to be reckoned with. Dianne also loved to laugh and crack jokes. She teased her loved ones mercilessly. Her spirit of fun and joy extended from family gatherings to workplaces, and everywhere in between.
She deeply valued her friendships and community, particularly after Keith's death in 2000. She continued to live a big life on her own, devoted to her people. She strongly believed in sharing and advocacy. She loved her Wildwood home and community, her Fort Garry United Church family, her Clear Lake cottage, and ladies walking group, and the many memories and friendships that she made in many places. Dianne loved cheering the Wesmen teams (and screaming at the referees - "Three in the key!"), and all the memories and relationships that being a member of the Booster Club opened to her. Despite the speed at which her illness took over, she was incredibly grateful for all the offers of support and messages of concern and love. She never had time to accept them, but she knew that she was surrounded by deep affection and community.
Dianne was predeceased by her husband Keith, parents Larry and Marian, father- and mother-in-law James and Merle, niece Meghan, brother- and sister-in-law Howard and Sheila Cooper, and brother-in-law Conrad.
If you would like to contribute to causes that mattered to her, the family suggests donations to IRCOM (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization) or the Green Action Centre. To honour her memory, live bravely, love loudly, and do what you believe is right with humility and grace.
Dianne's Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, November 19 at 2:00 p.m. at Fort Garry United Church, 800 Point Rd., Winnipeg, Manitoba. Thank you to Wojcik's Funeral Chapel and Crematorium, 1020 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB, R2W 3R1.
Condolences can be made at

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Oct 15, 2022

Condolences & Memories (16 entries)

  • Knowing Dianne was an experience I never want to forget. I met her when I lived in Lynn Lake. Dianne came up to visit. She was only 18 at that time and already showed promise to be very much her own person but with serious concerns for other persons! We remained friends. She lived life to the fullest - and so many other lives were better because of her. Including mine. My heart goes out to Gerri, Jill, Tricia and families. I hope that good memories of this wonderful woman will always be part of your lives. Joan Baragar - Posted by: Joan Baragar (Friend) on: Nov 18, 2022

  • Our deepest sympathies go to all of you in Dianne's family. Dianne was a friend we knew for about 50 years through United Church circles, the Reflection Action Reflection Group and Project Peacemakers. She was an inspiration in her work for peace and social justice. We are so sorry that we cannot attend her celebration of life, but our thoughts will be with you all. Dorcas and Kirk Windsor - Posted by: Dorcas Windsor (Friend) on: Nov 18, 2022

  • Dianne Cooper was the genuine article - a person of passion, grace, wisdom and faith, tireless self-giving, devoted friendship and irrepressible humour. My deepest condolences to Gerri, Jill, Trish, Geoff, Sam, and families. It was my privilege to know Dianne for nearly 40 years, beginning in 1985 when we both turned up in Toronto, green as grass but ready to jump into the fray, at our first national gathering of Conference Executive Secretaries. The friendship with Dianne, Keith and the "girls" was cemented each summer at the cottage at Clear Lake over dinners of freshly caught fish and conversations marked by silliness and whatever topic of the day came to mind. Dianne has left her mark on the lives of countless individuals, groups and organizations. We will be fortunate if we see her like again. - Posted by: Bill Wall (Friend.) on: Nov 06, 2022

  • We remember Dianne fondly for her support of the Wesmen women's basketball program when our daughter played from 2005-2010. Dianne was kind enough to offer room and board in her beautiful home for a year to Randie. We will never forget her kindness, her wonderful Christmas letters and special notes supporting our Roughriders! She was a remarkable woman and will be missed by our family. - Posted by: Gord and Mary-Lou Gibson (Fruend) on: Oct 27, 2022

  • I got to know Dianne while working with the Project Peacemakers group. I appreciated her knowledge, her desire to create peace in the world, and the leadership she provided for the organization for many years. My sincere sympathy to her family for this great loss. Marlene Tjaden - Posted by: Marlene Tjaden (friend) on: Oct 19, 2022

  • My condolences to all of Dianne's family on this difficult loss. Dianne, as everyone knows, was such a great supporter of our Wesmen Athletics teams and was guaranteed to be seen cheering on our student-athletes. Her visibility at our games, and her impact on our young student-athletes, will not be forgotten, and I can attest that her legacy in our department will carry on for many years. - Posted by: David Larkins (Wesmen Athletics ) on: Oct 17, 2022

  • Diane was a beautiful life. I knew her in the 70s while working with her and her husband in an teacher education program. These were years of exploration for all of us and she was a searcher too. She gathered great strength in those years and her life became a beacon for many others. God rest her soul. - Posted by: John Ekstedt (friend and colleague) on: Oct 16, 2022

  • Diane was at all of our son’s Wesmen games. I loved when she would yell Three in the key. Or tell the refs exactly what she was thinking. She was kind and funny and we shared many laughs. Diane your Wesmen family will miss you❤️ Rest In Peace with Mr Cooper - Posted by: Linda Opalko (Friend) on: Oct 16, 2022

  • My late wife Marjorie and I had a long relationship with Dianne during her long and faithful service to FGUC and the larger United Church community. Lots of fond memories of a truly wonderful and wise lady. - Posted by: Brian Trenholm (Friend) on: Oct 16, 2022

  • Our deepest condolences Gerri, Jill, Tricia and your families. Dianne certainly lived life to the fullest with love and gratitude and it was felt in her Christmas letters every year. - Posted by: Lorreena and Roland Shaw (Cousin) on: Oct 16, 2022

  • Geoff and Jill - I'm so sorry to hear about Dianne. I know how beloved she was, by you and your family and the broader community. Deepest condolences. -Erika Wiebe - Posted by: Erika Wiebe (Friend of family) on: Oct 16, 2022

  • I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your mom. Growing up in Wildwood was a true gift and knowing your family added to that. Your mom always had a smile, a word of advice and a loving comment. A true role model. I truly loved her passion in the stands cheering for the Wesmen even though she picked the wrong team! 😉 May all the wonderful memories ease your grief. Hugs to you all. ❤️ - Posted by: Carol Ploen-Hosegood (Friend) on: Oct 16, 2022

  • In the early 1980’s, I became involved in the United Church outside of my home church in Carman. In doing so I met Dianne. She thought I definitely had a role in ministry. After a year in a lay ministry position, she knew I would be available to apply to work at Fort Garry UC in Youth Ministry. She introduced me to Joan Jarvis (Mitchell), whom she was suggesting for Children’s Ministry. Joan and I met, appreciated one another right away, and agreed to apply for the Youth and Children’s Ministry position. Joan and I got the position and we worked together at FGUC for two years. Dianne’s daughter Gerri was on the youth support committee. During my time there I was often invited to Dianne and Keith’s home in Wildwood Park, also to her place at Clear Lake. I call Dianne a mentor, for she saw in me something I hadn’t seen in myself. Her encouragement began my career in ministry, and finally ordination in 2003. Even though we have not maintained much contact over the years, it was always a delight to see her or hear her speak of things she was passionate about. My sincerest sympathy to her daughters, Gerri, Jill, and Tricia, and all her family and friends in your loss of such an amazing mother and woman. - Posted by: Dee McEachern (Early mentor) on: Oct 15, 2022

  • I was blessed to work with Diane during my 8 years of ministry at Fort Garry United Church. Diane's tireless passion for social justice and boundless compassion for all human beings shaped me and my ministry deeply. I am forever grateful for all the words she spoke, all the things she did for the church and the wider community, and all that who she was - kind, fearless, welcoming, inviting, intelligent, caring, considerate, humorous, down-to-earth, and straight forward. Diane was truly a beautiful human being inside and out. The light she carried throughout her life will continue to be carried by all of us, who have been influenced by this wonderful life well lived. I will remember Diane fondly with a kind of smile she gave me. My heart goes out to her beloved family and the congregation of Fort Garry UC. - Posted by: Min-Goo Kang (former minister) on: Oct 15, 2022

  • Our Sincere condolences Gerri, Jill, Tricia and families. What a life that was LIVED loving, caring and serving. We feel very honoured to have known Dianne and have many memories with Keith & Dianne and the White families. Sending Cooper/White families our love and prayers. Rick & Deb Holmes & Family - Posted by: Rick & Deb Holmes (Friends) on: Oct 15, 2022

  • I was Dianne’s support person for a few years while she was Executive Secretary of Conference, although it was more like Dianne’s support of me in my ministry. She was simply a wonderful person with that somewhat rare combination of intelligence and caring. I respected her deeply and always felt fortunate to have her as a friend. - Posted by: Bob Galston (Friend and colleague) on: Oct 15, 2022

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