Diane Pavellas, 1942 – 2011: In Pursuit of Joy and Beauty

Diane’s life is best appreciated through memories and impressions evoked from an album of photographs presented here.

Diane loved to be the hostess for gatherings of family and friends. Here she is hosting a birthday party at her home in San Jose for brother Ron, 6 January 2002

Diane Helen Pavellas was born at Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, 27 August, 1942. We were then living in the new Sunnydale Housing Project for war workers at 1822 Sunnydale avenue, San Francisco, near the “Cow Palace” in Daly City. Mother Artemis Pavellas was 23 years old. Father Conrad Pavellas worked at the Kaiser Richmond Shipyards as a rat-proofing foreman in building “Liberty Ships” for the U. S. Navy. Diane, along with her small family, began life in humble circumstances., both in San Francisco and, beginning 1946, Brooklyn, New York.

The Sunnydale Housing Project
(San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library)


Our father, Conrad Pavellas, was (falsely) promised a partnership in a printing firm by his cousin George Pavellas, so the four of us moved to Brooklyn. Dad preceded the rest of the family to arrange housing, and the three of us arrived, by train, on New Year day, 1946.

The area surrounding 3rd Avenue and 48th Street, Brooklyn (click on the image)

We escaped back to California in the summer of 1951 when Diane was age 9.

1948: Diane Pavellas, age six years, in Brooklyn, New York

Perhaps Diane’s natural appreciation and talent for arranging things and events of beauty were doubly encouraged by her memories of the Brooklyn slum we lived in, but it doesn’t matter. Our aunts Angie and Bee in California supported Diane and me (brother Ron) in our taking piano lessons and, for Diane, ballet lessons. She was a good and enthusiastic dancer. She enjoyed entertaining the neighborhood children by dancing in the street, beginning her career as someone who attracted people and who brought them, and herself, joyful experiences.

Diane remained in California for the rest of her life until early 2008, when she moved upon retirement from the real estate business to Rosarito Beach, Mexico. She died there, suddenly and apparently from an acute attack of asthma, on 8 July 2011.

Diane married twice, was blessed with a daughter Victoria and a stepson, Rick, both of whom have children of their own.

As stated at the head of this eulogy, almost 300 pictures from Diane’s life can be seen in chronological order here, each picture accompanied by some descriptive text. At the end of this photo album, there is a short video of Diane giving me a visual tour of the El Descanso housing development in which she lived and worked.

Hail and Farewell, Diane Helen Pavellas: daughter, sister, niece, aunt, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend.


About Ron Pavellas

Expatriate Californian living in Sweden with wife. Retired from employment in the USA. Currently focused on blog articles, memoirs, and creative writing.
This entry was posted in Diane H. Pavellas, Pavellas and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Diane Pavellas, 1942 – 2011: In Pursuit of Joy and Beauty

  1. anna Pagonis- pitts says:

    I am in SF today. While having lunch, reminiscencing of family. I looked u up Ron. So sad to learn of Diane’s death. I just adored her exuberant personality. Our family loved her dearly.

  2. Mark says:


    I am a historian working on a history book on World War II in the Pacific Theater. As troops across the country to the west coast in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, many were billeted in the “Cow Palace” before being shipped overseas. My co-author and I would very much like to use the photo you posted on this blog in our book. We would of course state that the photo comes from your collection in the caption.

    Here is a link to the project description: http://airwar-worldwar2.com/products/books/38bg

    If you are able to assist us, please click on “Contact Us” and include the name you wish to have cited in the book.

    Best wishes,

    Co-Author, Saga of the Sun Setters

  3. Ron Pavellas says:

    Hello Mark,

    I am usually fastidious about identifying sources of the images I use in my blogs. I can only excuse myself by noting I was grieving on the death of my little sister.

    Here is the source of the picture: http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=Public_Housing_Comes_Full_Circle

    I have now added the correct attribution to the photo, and thanks.

    I remember the Cow Palace well. My dad and some Finnish immigrants (or descendants) formed a consumer’s cooperative and used a building on Geneva Avenue, a major street, across from The Cow Palace.

  4. sklatham65 says:

    Hello Ron, I am so sorry to hear about Diane. I knew her as a child, the last time I spoke to her was when I got married. I am just writing my condolences for you and your family. She will be missed.

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