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Diane Richter

Mechanical engineer, active in scouting, hiking, conservation

Diane Richter. (Courtesy photo)

Diane S. Richter, a longtime resident of Harvard, died at home Dec. 16, 2022. She was 79.

Diane was born in New York City, Aug. 5, 1943, to Isidore and Gertrude Sarner.  She had one sibling, a younger sister, who died of leukemia in her 50s.

Diane attended Hunter College High School, in Manhattan, a girls-only honor high school, between 1957 and 1960.  While HCHS is mainly a liberal arts school, she was more interested in math and science and was captain of the school’s math team.

She attended Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science, where she earned three degrees: a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering in 1965, a master’s degree in 1966, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering in 1978.

Diane and her future husband Steve Richter first met in 1959 when both were captains of their respective high school math teams. They met again “for real” during freshman week at Columbia when Steve recognized her from previous competitions. They married two years later, in 1962.  They moved to Lexington in 1971 when Steve began work at Raytheon, so Diane had to complete her Ph.D. long distance.  They moved to Harvard in 1981.

 They had one son, Isaac, who was born after their 25th wedding anniversary and is completing his Ph.D. in computer security at the University of Rochester.

Diane’s career included two short stints as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, first at the University of Lowell and then at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, as well as stints as an engineer at MITRE and Raytheon.  But mainly she was a wife and mother.

Her main civic involvement was as an assistant scoutmaster and merit badge counselor in different Boy Scout troops. Aside from hiking in spite of her needing a walker for the last year of her life, she enjoyed solving math and logic puzzles. One activity that stands out is a hike down and up the Grand Canyon in the late ’70s. Diane was a longtime member of the Harvard Conservation Trust and the Harvard Historical Society. Prior to the couple’s move to Harvard, she and Steve were members of the corresponding organizations in Lexington.

Diane is survived by her husband, Steve, and her son, Isaac; a nephew, Lowell Zuckerman, and a niece, Isabel Zuckerman Liali, children of Diane’s deceased sister.  She had numerous friends, many going back to her high school years.

She is buried in the Beit Olam West section of North Cemetery in Wayland. The funeral was Sunday, Dec. 18, and there was a short service at the gravesite. No other memorial service is planned.

Donations in Diane’s memory may be made to Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, 40 Wall Street, NY 10005 (hadassah.org).

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