OBITUARY: Diane Hamilton; Spirited secretary at The News

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 12B

Diane Hamilton, a feisty and funny secretary in the newsroom of The Dallas Morning News, died Christmas morning at Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie.

She was 52 and had faced a yearlong battle with cervical cancer.

“Diane was a bigger-than-life personality whose presence always filled a room,” said Bob Mong, editor of The News.

Ms. Hamilton was born in Lansing, Mich., and raised in the Detroit suburbs. She moved to Los Angeles after high school, working in the insurance industry before heading to Texas in 1998.

Her fiancĂ©, Tim Whittemore, met her in Los Angeles and was immediately attracted to two things: “Her long dancer’s legs and her sense of humor. She knew how to laugh and how to make other people laugh.” A close third, he said, was her sharp mind.

In Dallas, she began work at The News as an executive secretary, working with many of the newspaper’s top editors. She supported their work and that of journalists around the newsroom. Among her responsibilities was the annual assembly of award entries for journalism competitions such as the Pulitzer Prize.

“I can’t tell you how many times she knew the answer to a question or knew how to get things done when no one else seemed to,” said Walt Stallings, the paper’s senior deputy managing editor.

Ms. Hamilton, tall and lean, was a dancer and an athlete. Her cancer diagnosis in February made it harder for her to play golf or dance the cha-cha, two favorite pursuits. But it did not dim her lively spirit.

Ms. Hamilton and Mr. Whittemore lived together for a decade. They decided to marry two weeks ago, after she had received discouraging news from doctors: The cancer had spread to her spine and she only had a few months left.

They had planned to wed yesterday morning at the Ellis County Courthouse. “We got the license, but we didn’t have time for the ceremony,” Mr. Whittemore said.

Ms. Hamilton is survived by five of her seven brothers – Dan Hamilton of Cleveland, David of Northville, Mich., Patrick of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Ray and Doug, both of Farmington Hills, Mich.

There will be no funeral, but a private gathering will be held Friday. Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society.