Diane M. Springer grew up on a dairy farm near a small Minnesota town with three general stores on its main street, and graduated from a rural high school where expectations were that women would get married or become teachers.
But Springer had grander ambitions. She became a vice president for Honeywell’s Canadian operations, traveled the world and retired at 50.
Springer, who split her time between waterfront homes in Florida and Toronto, died of ovarian cancer Aug. 10 at her home in St. Petersburg, Fla. She was 67.
Her sister, Nancy Lytle, said Springer excelled in school. At the small parochial grade school they attended in Crown, she was a dedicated student who was allowed to skip a grade. And she was always the kind of person who could make things happen, her sister said. For instance, because there were no sports teams for girls, she started a volleyball league.
Springer graduated from St. Francis High School and earned a degree in business administration and accounting from St. Cloud State University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. She worked at a CPA firm in Minneapolis and Seattle.
Peg Sellin met Springer when they were in their early 20s and looking for college roommates. She said that Springer’s goal was to become a corporate controller, but that she far exceeded that. She worked for Honeywell for 23 years, becoming a vice president for finance for Honeywell’s Canadian operations in Toronto.
She visited dozens of places, including South America, Turkey, Egypt and India, but the breadth of her travel never belied her microscopic curiosity about the places she visited, Sellin said. “She loved seeing the local culture,” Sellin said. “She wanted to visit the small family-owned restaurants and eat the local fish, not the fancy five-star places.”
Springer shared those experiences with a vast circle of friends from all over the world, including a group that met for an annual getaway.
In the end, she wanted to spend her final weeks in her living room, where she could watch boats cross Tampa Bay and golf on TV.
Her death stunned friends, who said that she was among the most fit of the bunch. She took daily walks, and loved to golf and kayak. Early retirement gave her the time to pursue the things she loved.
“Her motto was ‘Work hard and play’; she’d always say that,” Sellin said. “There was never any procrastinating on her part.”
In addition to her sister, Springer is survived by a brother, Randy Springer. A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 5 at Hosanna! Lutheran Church, 9600 163rd St W., Lakeville.
Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376