Remembering Diane Colborn, Berkeley special education teacher with her own unique style

Diane Colborn, 68, worked in public schools for over 40 years. She had red hair, wore a red beret and manicured her nails with bright colors.

Diane Colborn. Credit: The Colborn/Gleich Family

Diane Colborn was an energetic, outgoing, red-headed mother, sister, colleague, bar-going friend and liberal thinker residing in her beloved Berkeley.

Diane passed away on Aug. 4 at the Oakland Medical Center due to complications from pneumonia. She was 68.

She was born in March 1953 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to the late Eleanor Latimer Colborn and the late Earl F. Colborn, Jr.

A passionate educator who championed academic opportunity for all students, Diane worked in public schools for over 40 years. She began her career as a high school teacher in South Dakota and taught in the Boston area as well. For over 20 years, she worked in special education for Berkeley Public Schools, culminating her career as special education program manager for Berkeley High School. After her retirement in 2017, she tutored and evaluated Berkeley High School students. She was devoted to her students and touched countless lives in her career as an educator and administrator.

She attended Brown University where she earned a degree in urban education in 1975. She was awarded a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. And she earned further post-graduate certifications from San Francisco State University and the University of California at Berkeley. 

She met the love of her life, Jim Gleich, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They were married for 32 years until his passing in 2010.

Diane had her own unique style. She perpetually wore a red beret and her nails were manicured with bright colors. She loved reading, walking, swimming, champagne, sushi and good cheese. She was an avid traveler to warm weather locations with her dear friends Bonnie and Cathy. Upon the passing of her father, Duke, she took over his weekly family emails and kept the family connected. During the pandemic, she wrote a daily coronavirus diary to her siblings. Her last entry was “Coronavirus 2 Day 129” on July 22, 2021.

Diane is survived by her children, Lata and Graham Gleich; her siblings, Robert Colborn, John Colborn and Carol Loepere; her grandson, Landon; nieces and nephews, cousins and a large circle of friends including her companion Winston Burton. She was looking forward to the birth of her second grandchild in November.

A Celebration of Life will take place at the Brazil Room in October. In lieu of flowers, the family request donations in her memory be made to the Berkeley Public Schools Fund or the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center.