Diana (Giffen) Bartelds of Kenai, Alaska


On March 8, 2023, Diana (Giffen) Bartelds, who took great pride in her bad sense of humor and her love of everything about Nature, left this world.

Born to Coral and Bob Giffen in 1960 on one of the snowiest Pittsburgh nights on record, Diana was almost born in the hospital elevator and joked that was likely responsible for her personality.

Diana was fascinated with science at a young age and had a lifelong enthusiasm for photography and music as well.

Her love of Nature drew her early to camping and backpacking and eventually to hike parts of the Appalachian Trail and many trails in the eastern U.S and Alaska. She also rock climbed, rafted the Yough and spelunked with her best friend, Judy.

Diana felt blessed to grow up in a neighborhood in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, where close-knit families became lifelong friends. She graduated from Bethel Park High School in 1978 and then studied at West Virginia University.

In 1988 she became an R.N. and was an operating room nurse at Pittsburgh’s Central Medical Center. She very much enjoyed working as a nurse (known as “Muddy”) at Girl Scout Camp Redwing in southwestern Pennsylvania, where forever friendships were made around campfires.

Soon after that, she moved to Alaska to work as a O.R. nurse at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

Diana later received her bachelor of science with honors in journalism from Iowa State University. She became editor-in-chief of Alaska People Magazine and relished photographing and writing about Alaskans from all over the state and the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

Upon moving to the Kenai Peninsula, she met the love of her life, Jon Bartelds. The two married in a beachside ceremony in Homer, Alaska, and resided in K-Beach for more than 20 years. They enjoyed fishing and boating the Kenai River and Kachemak Bay as well as beach walks, “walkin’ the docks” and trips to Kauai.

Diana was well loved by her veteran patients at Kenai’s V.A. Clinic until her mother needed help in Pennsylvania. Diana commuted between Alaska and Pennsylvania until her beloved mom passed away.

Soon after, with Jon’s constant support, Diana fought and beat breast cancer.

Afterward, Diana studied and traveled until she began to feel unwell in 2021 and discovered she had another form of cancer. She fought hard but lost her battle on March 8, 2023.

Diana was preceded in death by her mother and father.

A funeral mass will be held at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Perry at a future date to be determined. In accord with her wishes, Diana will be interred with her parents and grandparents at Violet Hill Cemetery in Perry, Iowa.

She is survived by husband, Jon; stepson, Cole (Jenna); sister, Susan (Stephen); brother, Bobby (Julie); best friend, Judy (Marc) Josephson; feisty companion-kitty, Scooby; as well as friends across the entire country.

In lieu of flowers, donations may please be made to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at 799 Washington St., P.O. Box 807, Harpers Ferry, W.V. 25425. A Celebration of Life/potlatch will be announced at a later date and will be held in Kenai.

One of Diana’s favorite quotations was from “The Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann:

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive God to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.