Diana Georges-Claire, Ani Kartsok, left her body in the early hours of August 6, 2018, surrounded by love from her family and friends and the guidance and blessing of the KTD community.
Diana was a writer, a teacher, a story-teller and a scholar. She believed in authenticity and encouraged others to tell their own stories and live their dreams. In this way, she touched many people and opened many doors.
Diana’s life was filled with difficult lessons, but her spirituality, her creativity and her love of nature sustained her through the hardest of times. Diana loved to sing, dance, and laugh and was known for her piercing blue eyes that shone with clarity and curiosity.
Diana was born on October 14, 1942, on an Army base in San Antonio, Texas, to George and Elizabeth Nelson. George was a colonel in the U.S. Army and later worked in corporate America and so the family, including Diana and her brothers, moved often throughout their childhood. They eventually found their way to Edina, Minnesota where Diana attended high school. Diana stayed in Minnesota for college where she completed degrees in French and Education. Later she pursued a Masters in Anthropology from New York University in Hopi traditional medicine and conducted field studies in Arizona. Later in her career she obtained a Masters in Humanist Education.
Diana’s search for authenticity led her to meditation, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, and Ananda Ashram in the early 1970s. There Diana developed a curriculum and obtained New York State accreditation for an innovative elementary school. In the eighties, Diana studied with Grandmother Twyla and Grandmother Kitty of the Seneca Wolf Clan and was encouraged to lead workshops and share the earth-wisdom with others. In the early nineties, Diana moved to Woodstock, and began practicing at KTD. In 2011, Diana took her vows and became an Ani, a Buddhist nun, taking the name Ani Karma Phuntsok Wangmo. Throughout these years, Diana wrote a beautiful collection of children’s stories and led workshops teaching children to listen to the earth and their own “inside story teller.”
In the midst of following her creative and spiritual journey, Diana raised three daughters, became a massage and aroma-therapist, worked as a substitute teacher and then eventually found her way to Hyde Park Elementary School where she taught elementary school students learning to speak English. For many children, “Mrs. George” was the entryway, not only to English, but to life in America. Diana retired in 2005, sad to leave the children but happy to return to her other callings.
In 2014, Diana began experiencing the symptoms of dementia. But she was willful and strong and determined to remain independent, to continue her practices as an Ani and to not be a drain on others. We, her family, are deeply grateful to all of those who showed her kindness, care, compassion and patience during her last few years of independent living: KTD, Ananda Ashram, and the Woodstock community. The familiar faces at the pharmacies, bank, gas station and grocery stores made it possible for her continue to pursue her vocation despite debilitating illness.
In the summer of 2016, Diana left her Woodstock apartment. She continued to fight her transformation and to hold onto her identity. She did not lose her will or her strength, her feisty spirit, or the piercing look in her bright blue eyes. But by early 2018, she embarked on her final journey — drifting in and out of meditative states that lasted longer as the days went on. Diana found safety and peace, surrounded by the love and care of an amazing team of caregivers at Ten Broeck Commons. We were deeply touched and will never forget her caregivers’ respect and kindness which allowed Diana to leave this life with dignity and grace.
On Saturday, May 18, 2019, Diana’s ashes will be interred at the Karme Ling Retreat Center in Delhi, NY. The evening before, Friday May 17 at 5 p.m., Diana’s family — her brother Kyle Nelson, three daughters, Rachel Nicotra, Adrienne Nicotra, Erica O’Neill and their families (including six grandchildren) — as well as many dear friends will celebrate Diana’s life with a memorial service in Woodstock, NY. If you are interested in attending either of these services, please email: DGCmemorial@yahoo.com for more details.