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Diane Carlson, 68, business woman and community activist

Diane Carlson, 68, of Phoenixville, a businesswoman and community activist, died Friday, Nov. 30, of metastatic breast cancer at her home.

Diane Carlson
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Diane Carlson, 68, of Phoenixville, a businesswoman and community activist, died Friday, Nov. 30, of metastatic breast cancer at her home.

A native of Minneapolis, Ms. Carlson came east in the 1970s and established herself as the owner of small businesses in technology and gerontology.

She moved from Mount Airy to King of Prussia and then Phoenixville. In each case, she quickly gained traction as an activist on behalf of the sick and elderly.

"She had causes that she wanted to champion, and a lot of them had to do with health care and seniors," said her life partner, Judy Antipin. "And when she began championing something, she could be relentless."

Her skills as an advocate came in handy in 2008, when Ms. Carlson was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. As she went through chemotherapy, radiation, and a bilateral mastectomy, Ms. Carlson took charge of her own health care, always seeking more information for herself and others.

"At the Cancer Center at Phoenixville Hospital, she was known for being a font of ideas to improve cancer patient care," Antipin said.

Ms. Carlson was also a strong proponent of the power of positive thought. "If I were to say, 'That's not a bad idea,' she'd say, 'No, that's a good idea.' " Antipin recalled.

On Sept. 20, while she was mobile, Ms. Carlson and Antipin traveled to Washington, where they were married in the presence of friends and family.

A member of an evangelical Christian family, Ms. Carlson earned a bachelor's degree from Christian College/Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minn.

In the 1990s, while living in Mount Airy, she founded and was executive director of Gatherings of Businesswomen. The group coached a broad spectrum of female business owners on how to be successful.

Ms. Carlson was also active as board member of the Northwest Interfaith Movement, an organization that works to improve Germantown and Mount Airy. Her mentor and housemate was the late Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers.

After moving with Antipin to Phoenixville in 2006, Ms. Carlson quickly became active in that community. She and Antipin joined the Phoenixville Area Time Bank, a group that fosters the bartering of services and activities.

She loved animals, and regarded her dogs and cats as family, Antipin said.

Surviving, in addition to her partner, are three sisters and two nieces.

A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Imago Dei Metropolitan Community Church, 1223 Middletown Rd., Glen Mills. Ms. Carlson's body was cremated.

Contributions may be made to Memorial Donations, Cancer Center at Phoenixville Hospital, 824 Main St., Suite 101, Phoenixville, Pa. 19460.