Diana Steffek

July 20, 1951 - July 8, 2017
Grand Rapids, MI



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Van Andel Institute - Cancer Research
333 Bostwick NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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Life Story / Obituary


Hardworking, kindhearted, and genuine, Diana Steffek, was an extraordinary woman with a huge heart.

It was during the exciting decade of the 1950s when Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean became household names that James L. and Patricia B. (Everding) Fortner announced the birth of their daughter, Diana Delphine, on July 20, 1951, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her brother, James, was four years younger, and although her family frequently moved she considered Minneapolis, Minnesota, to be her childhood home. When Diana was 16, her family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, during her junior year, which made it a difficult move for her. She did quickly settle in at Rockford High School and was a good student. Diana called the area home for the rest of her life.

After graduating, Diana was eager for all that life had in store. She went to Davenport College where she trained to be a paralegal, although she never worked in that field. Diana worked as an executive secretary for Associated Truck Lines for a few years until they closed and then found a job she loved as an office manager for Broadmoor Products for more than 20 years.

Although she married a couple of times during the years following high school, Diana was a bit older when she met her soul mate. Steve Steffek had been a childhood friend of her second husband and lived upstairs at her house. They hung out together in groups with others, but they later realized a spark. Diana and Steve started their married life together on June 2, 1984, in a small ceremony at Townsend Park and took a honeymoon at a horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky. They loved just being together, never fighting or going to bed angry. They initially settled into a house on Beckwith Avenue and later moved just down the street. Diana liked having her own place and loved being at home most of all.

Diana and Steve were always doing something. A friend with a pet store introduced her to birds, and soon after they welcomed Rocky, an Amazon Parrot, into their home. Diana had always been an animal lover, and after helping at the pet store on Sundays for a time they took in several more birds over the years. This became too much work so Diana found other animals to love including a pet rabbit, chinchilla, hamster, and rats. Zoos were always part of any trip they took. She was an avid reader from the age of three, and she also liked relaxing with a great crime drama on television. Diana loved cooking and trying new recipes and was also a neat freak who liked having things orderly and clean.

Life significantly changed for Diana with some health issues as well as a breast cancer diagnosis in 2015. She underwent surgery, and although they thought this had gotten it all, they found the cancer had metastasized.

Positive, optimistic, and fun-loving with a contagious zest for life, Diana Steffek will be forever missed.

Diana Delphine Steffek, age 65 of Grand Rapids, passed away July 8, 2017 after a long battle with cancer. She was preceded in death by her father, James Fortner. Diana is survived by her husband of 33 years, Steve; her mother, Patricia Fortner; her brother, James (Cindy) Fortner; and her longtime companion, Rocky. Cremation has taken place. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Van Andel Institute are appreciated. To read more about Diana, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com