Diane Likas Ay­oob

Jan­uary 5, 1928 - Septem­ber 21, 2020

San Francisco Chronicle - - BAY AREA -

Diane Likas Ay­oob died peace­fully on Septem­ber 21, 2020 from con­ges­tive heart fail­ure. She was 92, and a life­long res­i­dent of the Bay Area.

With Thomas Ay­oob, her hus­band of nearly 64 years, the San Fran­cisco na­tive raised two sons in Daly City and San Ma­teo: Keith, an As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus of Pe­di­atrics at the Al­bert Ein­stein Col­lege of Medicine in New York, and Paul, a re­tired San Jose po­lice of­fi­cer and de­signer of cus­tom fur­ni­ture.

Art in many forms was prom­i­nent in Diane’s life. She was a tal­ented artist, with par­tic­u­lar fond­ness for char­coal and ink draw­ings, and sel­dom re­fused an op­por­tu­nity to visit a mu­seum, both in the Bay Area and when she trav­eled to New York and Europe.

She stud­ied dance for many years with sev­eral artists, in­clud­ing Ruth St. De­nis. Though her stud­ies ended when she mar­ried, she wanted her sons to ap­pre­ci­ate the per­form­ing arts as much as she did. When buy­ing tick­ets for their first mu­si­cal, she told the ticket agent, “I want your best seats so my boys will en­joy it and they’ll want to come back.”

Diane was an out­stand­ing home cook who in­sisted on her fam­ily sit­ting down at the ta­ble to­gether for din­ner and break­fast. Her reper­toire en­com­passed many cuisines but since she’d make only one meal at a time, her sons learned to en­joy new dishes. She was a do­cent at the San Fran­cisco Zoo for many years and set out to learn sign lan­guage so she could give tours to hear­ing im­paired chil­dren and adults. She loved do­ing those tours and would say about her hear­ing-im­paired groups, “they can’t hear the an­i­mals but they should know their sto­ries.”

Diane was also ac­tive in causes that spoke to her, so much so that she was known as “the pe­ti­tion lady” on her Daly City neigh­bor­hood, for her ef­forts to get mea­sures on bal­lots. An ar­dent ad­vo­cate for women’s re­pro­duc­tive rights, she vol­un­teered for Planned Par­ent­hood long be­fore Roe V. Wade.

She fre­quently wrote to all her con­gressper­sons and whichever pres­i­dent caused her to want to speak her mind: lower taxes, bet­ter schools, a woman’s right to choose. Later in life, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence also be­came a cause, and for her, this was per­sonal.

Diane be­came an ad­vo­cate for gay rights, af­ter her son Keith came out to the fam­ily. Diane read 27 books on all per­spec­tives of be­ing gay and hav­ing a gay fam­ily mem­ber. She drew on ex­pe­ri­ence in her young life when she at­tended classes from Ba­yard Rustin, gay black paci­fist, who took an in­ter­est in her and en­cour­aged her to ex­press her­self about causes that moved her. She was thrilled when she learned he mas­ter­minded the 1963 civil rights march on Wash­ing­ton. Dur­ing the ear­li­est stages of the HIV cri­sis, she had no dif­fi­culty hug­ging per­sons with HIV “be­cause some­one should do that,” and had no pa­tience for then-friends who did not ap­prove of her “touch­ing those peo­ple.”

Even through the most dif­fi­cult times, Diane never lost her sense of hu­mor. Her phi­los­o­phy was “ya gotta be able to laugh or the tough stuff will bury you,” and she wasn’t above telling a dirty joke or ju­di­ciously us­ing choice words to get a point across. Her hu­mor, love of laugh­ter, and ef­fer­ves­cent per­son­al­ity will be re­mem­bered my many who loved her. She will be much missed by all who loved her, in­clud­ing Keith’s part­ner of 29 years, Rod Deane; Roy and Tess Fairchild, and Sue and Don Lar­son and their daugh­ters, Casey and Kelly, who grew to love her as their “Grandma D”. May her spirit and good works live on.

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