MUSCATINE, Iowa – Dianna L. (Riggs) Howard, 74, of Illinois City passed away on December 24th, 2022, at her home in Illinois. Dianna was born in Muscatine, Iowa on January 15, 1948, to Edna M (Reynolds) and Harold D Riggs. After graduating from Muscatine High School, she went on to study at Muscatine Community College and then studied Cosmetology. She practiced in this career for the next several decades while raising her family. She married James A Hesseltine and had two children, Michael J Hesseltine of North Liberty, Iowa, and Erika D Hesseltine, of Longmont, Colorado. In later years following a divorce from her first husband she met and married Charles C Howard of Illinois City. They were happily married for more than two decades. They became snowbirds making an annual pilgrimage to their second home in Louisiana when midwest winters were at their worst.
Dianna was preceded in death by her parents, and her husband. She is survived by her two siblings, Teresa Lilienthal of Tipton Iowa and brother Tom Riggs and his wife Sandy who reside in New Bern, North Carolina. Dianna would often and fondly refer to Sandy as her other sister. She is also survived by her son Michael and his husband Casey Dunagan (who was warmly referred to as her other son) and her daughter Erika and her wife Sara Riggs (who became another daughter to Dianna). Erika and Sarah have two children, daughter Olivia and her husband Marc Shepherd of Iowa City and her son Gabe Baird also of Iowa City. Dianna loved her grandchildren and was very proud of the people they are becoming and spoke of them often, getting frequent updates on their lives which both inspired her, and stoked her pride. She will also be missed by several nieces and nephews and her Maine Coon cat ‘Rascal’.
Dianna loved to bake (and we have hundreds of Christmas cookies to prove it) and she deeply cared for her family. She would spend an entire week preparing every last detail to make occasions special for her family. She was an avid gardener and inspired both of her children’s love of the outdoors and being in nature. Dianna was a warm and caring individual who enjoyed life, her family and friends. She was deeply spiritual, always curious, oddly funny, and welcoming to all those who entered her life. She spent her days outside enjoying the country home and acreage where she has spent the last two decades of her life. When not out in nature she loved to decorate her home for every holiday imaginable and avidly tuned into Days of Our Lives. She had recently discovered Netflix and other on-line services after her son-in-law Casey, set up her home Wi-Fi and would regale Michael and Erika on the details of various movies and tv during their daily phone calls. While Dianna left her family very much too soon, she will be greatly missed and is leaving a legacy of deep love and compassion for all those whose lives she touched. Whether you called her Dianna, Mom, or grandma, knowing her was knowing what love meant. She will be greatly missed.
A graveside memorial will be held at a later date, likely in May for family and close friends. Memorials may be made to the University of Iowa Center for Advancement – for Alzheimer’s research.