Diane Stoller Freedman, 77, of Philadelphia, a career counselor for 35 years and later a docent at the Barnes Foundation, died Thursday, July 23, of cancer at her home.
Mrs. Freedman was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, said her husband, Robert L. Freedman, a retired Center City lawyer.
“She refused to be defined by her illness, persevering with courage, tenacity, and a strong will to live,” he said. While undergoing treatment, she continued her volunteer work and charitable giving.
Mrs. Freedman was best known as the co-owner of Career Visions, a Center City business she and Jane Finkle started in 2001. She coached adult clients through all phases of career choice and job transition, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Many of her clients were trapped in jobs they found unsatisfying. She worked with them to identify their interests and to guide, not push, them into alternate career paths. Many of her clients were so appreciative of her efforts that they cried, her husband said.
She charged nominal fees and never raised them because she sensed that those between jobs did not have deep pockets, her husband said. She designed and implemented career development projects for seniors as well as high school and college students.
She was also a consultant to organizations in need of guidance on workplace transition. Early in her career, she enjoyed leading workshops, her husband said.
Before Career Visions, she was a career consultant at Options Inc., an organization on South Broad Street that provided consultation and problem-solving for women. From 1984 to 1986, she worked as an academic adviser and career counselor at Temple University.
“Diane was known for her remarkable empathy and humanistic insight, which enabled her to connect with a wide variety of people and transform the career trajectory of countless Philadelphians toward a path of greater meaning and fulfillment,” her family said in a statement.
Born in New York to Samuel and Gloria Stoller, a dentist and a homemaker, she graduated from the city’s public schools. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Columbia University in 1964, then a master’s degree in teaching English from Teachers College, Columbia University. She taught English for two years at Brandeis High School in Manhattan.
In 1965, she married Robert Freedman. In 1968, they moved to Center City, where he joined the Dechert law firm, later becoming a partner. They had three children.
Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia, she joined a small group of parents and educators who established the Philadelphia School, a progressive independent school at 25th and Lombard Streets.
In 1985, once her children were of school age, Mrs. Freedman earned a master’s degree in counseling from Villanova University. She worked with nonprofit organizations and individuals to create a constructive work environment and empower people to find career fulfillment.
“She helped many to transcend just ‘having a job’ and instead to find a deep purpose and satisfaction through their work,” her family said.
On retiring in 2013, Mrs. Freedman embarked on another chapter by taking extensive art appreciation courses at the Barnes Foundation. She became a docent there because she enjoyed learning about art and wanted to share her thoughts with others.
Mrs. Freedman supported several charities in Philadelphia through “giving circles” in which friends pooled their philanthropic contributions to have maximum impact, her family said. The recipients were typically female entrepreneurs with a startup business plan but no funding. She was also active in supporting the Curtis Institute of Music.
She was devoted to her family and friends and took great pleasure in their successes. When they faced obstacles, she helped, too.
Besides her husband, she is survived by a daughter, Elizabeth; sons Paul and Jonathan; five grandchildren; and a brother.
Services were private due to the COVID-19 pandemic.