PEPPERELL — At the start of this year's annual town meeting, officials were waiting for a motion for the town to accept its 2018 annual report. The motion was made by Masy BioServices President Laurie Masiello, who had an addition to the motion: naming the report after her friend, Diane Karr.
Though she passed away at the age of 64 on September 15 last year, Diane's spirit was saluted by the town for her years of selfless service to the community.
"She was very passionate and seriously cared about her causes," Laurie said last week. "She was at town meetings always talking about issues."
The causes in Diane's life were many since she and her husband, Historical Commission Clerk Ronald Karr, first moved to Pepperell in 1985 with their three children: Emilie, Matthew and Jeannine.
According to Ronald, the family originally lived in Chicago where Diane had gotten involved with supporting local schools. That passion carried over state lines when Diane asked administrators at the now defunct Peter Fitzpatrick School if they had a parent-teacher group. It turned out that she was one of the first parents to bring up having such a group for the school, eventually becoming a founding member and president of the Peter Fitzpatrick Parent Teacher Support Group.
"We had a long-term interest in schools and what they could offer," Ronald said last week. "If parents are involved with schools, they contribute to their overall success and teachers really respond to them. Diane loved interacting with kids and being able to shape them and make them better people."
Diane continued to help local education as part of Peter Fitzpatrick's Watchdog Committee, keeping an eye on issues discussed at school committee meetings and communicating them to the parent-teacher group. She later served on the North Middlesex Regional School Committee for five years, along with time on the Superintendent's Advisory Council and both Building Committees of the Nissitissit Middle School and the addition to the Varnum Brook Elementary School. But once their children graduated high school, Ronald said that he and Diane wanted to support another important cause.
"After a couple of years we wanted to do something together and we felt very strongly about hunger," he said. "We thought about how a country as rich as ours can have kids who were going to bed hungry."
This led to Diane's work with the Pepperell Aid from Community to Home, the nonprofit outreach group that provides food and other necessities for struggling citizens. Susan LaRocco, another Pepperell resident who also volunteered with PACH, said last week that Diane helped design the organization's website and later served as coordinator between PACH and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This involved Diane comprising lists of foods in surplus, ordering them for PACH's food pantry on Hollis Street and organizing transport for said food. Susan also noted the extra effort Diane put in, bringing in fresh desserts for volunteers who packing bags for those PACH served.
"She just took care of the program," she said. "She did it by herself and paid great attention to detail."
Diane also took interest in local politics, volunteering at the polls for 30 years. According to her husband, it helped Diane serve and stay connected to the community in a different way.
"Volunteering got her in touch with people that she wouldn't have gotten through just working in a business," Ronald said. "She loved the town and working with people. Without volunteers, none of these towns would run."
"She cared so much about the town," Susan said. "If something needed to be done, her hand would be up. She was a wonderful and caring individual."
Jon Winkler: jwinkler@ nashobavalleyvoice.com