Niagara Gazette

May 5, 2013

Betsy Diachun earns big county honor, to be recognized during Albany ceremony

Betsy Diachun earns big county honor, to be recognized during Albany ceremony

By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Do not wait politely until 9 a.m. to call Betsy Diachun.   

She likely would be long gone, having risen with the birds before playing a game of tennis and then stopping to have her hair done at an hour most others are just pouring their morning coffee.

How else could she be involved in more volunteer enterprises than most people have fingers. You’d need to pull your socks off and start counting on toes before really understanding the amount of effort the Lewiston resident puts into improving the community.

Diachun was recently named Senior Citizen of the Year for Niagara County, and her nomination came from Nora Perez, who became friends with Diachun when their children were young.

“When I saw the announcement about the nomination, I just thought of Betsy right away and what a wonderful candidate she’d be,” Perez said.

“She’s not just bright, friendly and compassionate, she’s also great fun to be with,” Perez said.

Betsy’s sense of humor is surely evident when Diachun jokes that it would have been hard not to win the award since her nominator, Perez, is a noted author of historical fiction.

“How could I miss when my nomination was written by an author,” she smiled recently while enjoying a cup of coffee on a comfortable couch surrounded by books on the second floor of The Book Corner, owned by her son, Jeff Morrow.

The mother of three who recently moved to Lewiston with her second husband, Peter Diachun, also has a daughter who is an artist, living on an island in Maine, and a son who is a physical therapist in Seattle.

As the apples don’t fall too far from the tree, there was some good natured kidding from her children, about the award, she said. “My kids want to know if this is something I dreamed of when I was 16 — a banner across my chest declaring me ‘Ms. Senior Citizen — Niagara County — 2013.’ ”

Of course, someone like Betsy Diachun doesn’t spend a lot of time dreaming about much of anything. She’s far too busy doing.

At 77, Diachun is full of a vitality that makes some half her age look as if they’ve done next to nothing with their last 24 hours, but she considers her health and energy a blessing.

A leader of the Falls Unitarian Universalist Church, along with her husband, Peter, Betsy admits to not worrying or believing to much about a life that comes after this one. “My religion is service to others,” she said.

Perez’s nomination details many of Diachun’s acts of service, from donating platelets each month at Roswell Park Memorial Medical Center to delivering Meals on Wheels each week, to chairing the Niagara Area Foundation. Her other volunteer projects include Habitat for Humanity, Planned Parenthood, the Niagara Beautification Commission, Niagara Falls Memorial, Old Fort Niagara, the Niagara County Historical Society the Lewiston Porter Board of Ed, Leadership Niagara, Artpark, and the Red Hat Society.

One of the reasons she can do so much, she said, is that her husband, Peter, is there to support her efforts at every turn. If she joins, then he joins.

But even Peter admits his wife is so busy he often doesn’t know exactly which organization she’s helping on which day.

“She’s as busy as a person with a full-time job and a part-time job,” he admitted to an early morning phone caller one recent morning, after admitting she had left hours earlier.

For those who are exhausted just reading about Betsy’s activity consider this last sentence from her nomination: “Betsy enjoys all this vibrant area has to offer. She bikes along the Niagara River, kayaks on that beautiful waterway, and also walks and skis cross-country locally. She is enthusiastically involved in the Niagara community and works energetically for the community.”

As May is Senior Citizen Month in New York State, the state will be honoring Betsy and others seniors from across the state with a ceremony in Albany on Tuesday.