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Elizabeth D. (Simpson) Vivanco


Last updated 4/17/2020 at 4:33am

Elizabeth D. (Simpson) Vivanco

Elizabeth D. (Simpson) Vivanco, known as Diane, died peacefully in Fallbrook, April 4, 2020, two days before her 78th birthday. She suffered from vascular dementia, a mysterious and all-consuming disease, yet she retained her compassionate and determined spirit until the end.

Diane was born in Pasadena in 1942. Adopted and raised by Nona and John Simpson, she was nevertheless compelled to find her biological parents. In her 40s, she found them, Betty and Harry Appenzeller in Indiana and learned she had four younger biological siblings: Jan, Patrick, Bill and Margaret Appenzeller. The relationships she created with the family were rich and lasting. The Adoptees Liberty Movement aided her search and for years she helped other adoptees.

After graduating from Arcadia High School in 1960, Diane attended Whittier College. During a summer break as a leader in the Sea Scouts on Catalina Island, she met Ed Vivanco. They married in 1964.

Diane graduated as a registered nurse and worked in doctor's offices and nursing homes in Pasadena. In 1973, they moved to Vista with their three children.

Diane was deeply committed to community volunteerism. She was a Cub Scouts and PTA leader, backyard swim teacher, youth soccer coach and referee, and a founder and longtime registrar of the Vista Soccer Club. She was a commissioner in the California Youth Soccer Association.

She had a creative flair, as a member of a community-focused clowning troop, violinist in the Fallbrook Orchestra and, late in life, as a volunteer chauffer of her beloved Citroen for weddings and proms.

She became a long-term care ombudsman, advocating for elders in San Diego County. Even in assisted living and impaired by dementia herself, her moments of clarity focused on expressions of compassion for others.

Her strongest passions were contemplative ones. She was an avid and knowledgeable bird-watcher, weather watcher and family genealogist. Her accomplishments in needlepoint are displayed on stockings at Christmas and the walls of her homes in Fallbrook and North Hero, Vermont. She practiced Rinzai Zen at the Hidden Valley Zen Center in San Marcos.

For years, jobs she did – creating a one-woman house painting business, working as a farmer of canna flowers and avocados and administrator of the Zen Center – were channels of meditative action.

Diane leaves her husband, Ed Vivanco of Fallbrook; daughter Mary and family (Darrell, Brendan and Kate) of Poway; son John and family (Brooke and Sebastian) of White Salmon, Washington; and son Luis and family (Peggy, Isabel, Felipe and Camila) of Burlington, Vermont. We are grateful to Terri Scirocca, whose dedication and compassion in Diane's end-of-life care helped sustain her human dignity.

Diane gave generously to many causes and charities. Memorial contributions in Diane's name can be made to Hidden Valley Zen Center, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Sierra Club.

Given the coronavirus pandemic, a memorial gathering will be postponed indefinitely.


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