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Diana Worby, 1924 - 2019

Diana Worby Picture.jpg

To the Phil Family:


A dear friend of the Phil and a literal “member of the family,” Diana Worby, passed away on November 27th. Together with her husband, Lou, who passed in 2017, they were staunch supporters of the Phil and a constant presence in the concert hall. Diana was the mother of executive & artistic director Joshua Worby.


Diana often said that classical music made her feel alive, and she wouldn’t miss a concert. She always bought at least two extra subscriptions in addition to her own, in order to invite friends and other acquaintances to Philharmonic concerts. Those friends would then “convert” to subscribers themselves. Diana distributed Philharmonic flyers throughout the town of Nyack, where she lived, and Josh often referred to her as comprising the “Rockland County satellite office of the Westchester Philharmonic.”


Diana’s obituary appears below. May she rest in peace.


On November 27, Dr. Diana Zacharia Worby passed away, peacefully in her sleep. Diana was born on September 6, 1924, in New York City, the daughter of Zachy and Esther (Lerman) Zacharia, the middle of three children: Her sister Hilda Politi (Seymore), who predeceased her, and her brother Don Zacharia (Christina), of Scarsdale, NY. The family moved to Mount Vernon in 1929, where Diana attended public schools and graduated from A.B. Davis High School. In 1947, while working as a secretary for the French Consulate in Manhattan, she met, and then married, Louis Worby, her husband of 69 years, and who predeceased her. Diana and Lou moved to Rockland County, first to Nyack and then to Monsey, where they raised three children, Rachael, David, and Joshua. In 1974 they moved to Pomona, NY, and after Lou’s death in 2017, Diana moved back to Nyack.


In 1971, having never attended college and with her children now grown, Diana decided to take an English literature class at Rockland Community College, where Professor Sam Draper ignited a spark in her that would redefine her life. She earned her Associates degree the next year, and by 1974, at age 50, had earned her B.A. and M.A. in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Manhattanville College. In 1975, she became an English professor at SUNY Empire State College, where Diana graduated hundreds of students who adored her. She received Empire State College’s Excellence in Teaching award, and the Rockland County Women’s Network Award for Achievement in Education, both in 1982. She earned her doctorate in Women’s Literature at Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1983.


After retiring from teaching in 2004, Diana founded The Learning Collaborative, a weekly series of day-long seminars and classes for senior citizens on topics of literature, politics, history, art, and science, which she would curate. It began with a few dozen participants and within a few years was attracting hundreds of intellectually curious members to its weekly seminars, and is thriving today at the New City Jewish Center.


Diana served scores of organizations, notably as President and Life Member of the National Council of Jewish Women, President and Life Member of the Parent Teachers Association, the Boards of Directors of the Rockland County Mental Health Association and Arts Council of Rockland, the Rockland County Commission on Women’s Issues, Rockland Community Action Council, Rockland County Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, and Rockland County Women’s Network.


Diana and Lou were avid supporters of the Westchester Philharmonic, MUSE/IQUE (in Pasadena), Rockland Conservatory of Music, Penguin Theater, Finkelstein Memorial Library, and dozens of others. They endowed a music scholarship at Ramapo High School.


Her passion for music, particularly classical music, as well as theater, dance, and fine art, were inseparable from her essence. Diana was not a trained musician but could accurately correct her children when they were practicing their instruments by calling out the right note from the next room, without knowing the piece they were practicing.


In addition to her brother and children, Diana is survived by her children’s loving spouses and partners Rory, Melanie and Mark; and adoring grandchildren Diana Louisa, Jess (Merrill), Rebecca, Samuel, Andrea, and Hannah.


In lieu of flowers, contributions to organizations in the arts, education, or to those engaged in the fight for women’s rights and human justice are apt expressions in honor of Diana Worby’s legacy.

(By Joshua Worby)

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