Diane M. Urbanski

A homemaker who enjoyed photography, she was also a parochial school volunteer who was always willing to help.

November 10, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Diane M. Urbanski, a Perry Hall homemaker and longtime parochial school volunteer, died of lung cancer Thursday at Gilchrist Hospice Care. She was 47.

Diane Marie Beebe was born in Chicago and moved to Baltimore with her family in 1964, and later to a home on Brook Avenue in Overlea, where she grew up.

After graduating from Mercy High School in 1979, she studied photography at the old Visual Arts Institute, from which she earned a degree in 1981.

Mrs. Urbanski subsequently worked as a photographer, a Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. sales manager and as an interior designer for Ethan Allen Home Interiors.

In 1994, she married Richard Urbanski, an insurance executive with Kelly & Associates, and began raising her children.

From 2004 to 2007, she owned and operated Storks By Diane, a stork rental business that furnished pink or blue plastic lawn storks to new parents.

"She loved doing that. She'd fill her van with storks and her children, and then go deliver them," said a sister, Laura Fertig of Bel Air.

Several years ago, Mrs. Urbanski began volunteering at St. Joseph Parochial School in Fullerton, where her three children are students and her husband is president of the school's board.

"Diane had an expression, 'Oh, sure, I'll do it,' and whenever anything needed to be done, she just stepped up and did it," said Phyllis A. Karko, who has been the school's principal since 2003.

When it came time to obtain new furniture for the school and freshen up its rooms, Mrs. Urbanski headed the effort.

"She used her decorator's eye and approached Lauman's Home Furnishings, whom she got to donate the furniture," Mrs. Karko said.

"Diane was so giving and always looking to do more. She was always so attuned to the needs of others. What she had was really a phenomenal gift."

Last year, when a student, Xavia Pirozzi, needed heart transplant surgery, Mrs. Urbanski organized and led "The Heart of St. Joseph," a fundraising effort that raised $150,000 to help assist the seventh-grader's family with medical costs.

The school will be closed today to allow faculty and staff members to attend a Mass of Christian burial for Mrs. Urbanski, Mrs. Karko said.

"Diane was a well-loved, kind and gentle person who people naturally gravitated to," Mrs. Karko said.

Mrs. Urbanski even offered her generosity and concern for others to those she didn't know.

Mr. Urbanski recalled when a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. bill - accompanied by a shut-off notice if not paid within 30 days - had been mistakenly delivered to their Perry Hall home.

Mrs. Urbanski told her husband she wished to pay the bill.

"At first, I questioned the idea by saying, 'What if the bill was for a residence that had been vacated perhaps by a young person who for financial reasons may have gone back to live with their parents, friends or whomever. Wouldn't it be wasting $300?' " Mr. Urbanski said.

"To which Diane replied: 'What if you're wrong?' We paid the bill. Lesson learned," he said.

Three months after she headed the fundraising campaign for Xavia Pirozzi, Mrs. Urbanski, a nonsmoker, was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Mrs. Fertig said it was her sister's "strong faith in Catholicism that helped her during her fight with cancer."

Mrs. Urbanski enjoyed photographing family gatherings, cooking and entertaining. She also liked traveling and visiting Ocean City.

Mrs. Urbanski was a communicant of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 8420 Belair Road in Fullerton, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today.

Also surviving are a daughter, Megan, 12; twins Zachary and Erin, 10; her parents, Robert W. and Catherine A. Beebe of Overlea; two brothers, Kevin Beebe of Snow Hill and Craig Beebe of Marriottsville; two other sisters, Amy Pecora of Kingsville and Cathy Witty of Perry Hall; and many nieces and nephews.

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