Esther Diane Smith 12/22/1945-04/04/2024

We are sad to report the passing of former employee Esther Diane Smith. Esther was hired in 1985 and taught philosophy courses until her retirement in 2008.

Family members have provided the following obituary.

The Reverend Esther Diane Smith passed away peacefully at her home in Fullerton, California on April 4, 2024 from natural causes. Mother Diane, as she was known by members of Saint Matthew Ecumenical Catholic Church, is survived by her sister Sharon, her brother Richard and wife Mary, and their two grown children Sarah and AJ.

Born on December 22, 1945 and raised in Fullerton, Diane attended Golden Hill Elementary School, Nicolas Junior High School, and Sunny Hills High School.  She excelled in school as a young person but loved  the Y.W.C.A. camp program most of all. From camper, to camp counselor, to camp staffer in charge of the Devotions and Rag Program, one might say her first ministry began at Camp Osceola in the San Bernadino Mountains in Southern California. During her studies at California State University, Fullerton she became interested in philosophy, and later earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Claremont Graduate University. While working on her dissertation, she taught philosophy at CSUF part-time starting at the age of 23. Soon after completing her degree, she was hired at Modesto Junior College.  During this time, she felt a calling to the priesthood and began seminary training the summer of 1979 at CDSP, the Episcopal seminary in Berkeley where she completed her Masters of Divinity. However, this calling was not fulfilled until much later in her life. Rather, she  found a position at Diablo Valley College and stayed there for 23 years.  She taught and later became dean of two separate divisions. It was at this time that she returned to a childhood passion for horses, and began a business breeding and showing Arabians.

It was not until she retired from her academic life that she discovered Saint Matthew Ecumenical Catholic Church.  She moved back to Fullerton, became very involved in the church and was ordained a priest in 2016. One of her greatest accomplishments was founding Saint Cyprian School of Theology. Mother Diane was greatly appreciated and respected for all of her work at Saint Matthew and will be fondly remembered by many.

Several options are available for those who would like to pay their respects to Esther Diane Smith as follows:  A viewing will be held on Friday, May 10, 2024 at 5:00 pm followed by a rosary service at  7:30 pm at McAulay and Wallace Mortuary located at 902 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, CA  92832.  On Saturday May 11, 2024 at 2:00 pm a funeral service and reception will be offered at Saint Matthew Ecumenical Catholic Church located at 1111 W. Town and Country Road, Orange CA 92868.  Finally, a brief graveside ceremony will be held on Monday, May 13, 2024 at 11:00 am at Memory Garden Memorial Park located at 455 West Central Avenue, Brea, California 92821. 


Below is a tribute from  Ruth R. Miller, Professor of Humanities, DVC:

And for those who do not recognize “Esther” but remember Diane Smith, she was a powerhouse, she was brilliant, and she was a most inspiring colleague. She will be sorely missed. 

More from Ruth R. Miller

Copy of Diane Smith’s retirement card from her friends/colleagues in Humanities

Diane was someone of real consequence and just a downright interesting person. 

I shared with the department that the memorial notice was unrecognizable to me as Diane. From the references to “Esther” to “Mother” to all the activities she became involved with later in life, but in a way that is its own statement about Diane: she was a lot of different things. 

(Note above, the retirement card from Humanities and Philosophy)  I had a great time coming up with something and the department and I had an even better time scheming for her surprise retirement get together held in H-108. Knowing she would never agree to a retirement party, we told her we needed to share some things in confidence with her at our department meeting (at this point she was a Dean and no longer in the department).  I suspected if we told her we had some important work gossip to share, she would make the time to show up, and sure enough it worked like a charm. She was shocked and touched when we she arrived to our little party.

Some of you may remember that Diane Smith also became a Dean at DVC.  To me, she was always kind and supportive.

It’s always a shock to learn of a former co-worker’s passing!  I was the Administrative Assistant to the Division of Fine Arts when Diane was Division Chair during the ‘90’s.  I remember her love for teaching and for her beloved Arabian Horses!  It’s comforting to know that she fulfilled her dream of becoming a spiritual leader.  My condolences to her family for their loss. 

Patricia Derickson


Those with additional tributes can send them to me ( and I will bundle them so we can add to Diane’s In Memoriam information. 

Nancy Zink

DVCRA Liaison