Diane Leatherman Dies of Cancer at 68

Diane Leatherman Dies of Cancer at 68


Diane Leatherman, 68, a writer and community activist, died on Jan. 7 of ovarian cancer at her home in Cabin John.

A freelance writer, Ms. Leatherman produced four books, two of them for young readers. They were fictionalized accounts of young girls in history — “Rebecca, A Maryland Farm Girl,” based on her mother-in-law’s growing up in rural Frederick County, and “Abigail — Before the Revolution,” a story of life on a subsistence farm in Colonial days. Her last book, “The Lunch Bunch,” is a collection of true stories of Montgomery County patients and survivors of cancer, who met weekly for lunch and support.

FOLLOWING HER diagnosis of ovarian cancer, Ms. Leatherman began a campaign of educating women and health professionals about the strong possibility of a connection between fertility drugs and ovarian cancer. Articles on this subject appeared in numerous publications including The Washington Post, the Montgomery Sentinel, the Gazette and Washington Woman.

Ms. Leatherman served as executive director of Friends of the Library, Montgomery County; D.C. coordinator, Orphan Foundation of America; and staff director, The Glen Echo Park Foundation. She had also worked as a costumed interpreter at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm at Turkey Run and as a ranger with the National Park Service at Glen Echo.

BORN AND RAISED in Kansas City, Mo., Ms. Leatherman came to Cabin John in 1967, and spent over three decades in community activities, including formation of Home Study, a group which focused on helping local black children with tutoring, school supplies, and small scholarships. She organized the annual Cabin John Crab Feast, served as president of the Citizens Association, and led efforts to enlist the county’s support in preserving and restoring the historic Black Cemetery behind the AME Zion Church on Seven Locks Road. She received the 2001 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award.

Her marriage to Larry Heflin ended in divorce.

Ms. Leatherman is survived by her husband of 24 years, Mark Leatherman; four children from her first marriage, Heidi Heflin, Leland Liu, Mitchell Heflin, all of Los Angeles, and Holli Heflin of New York; a daughter, Blythe Leatherman of Cabin John; two nieces, one nephew, four grandchildren, and a foster son.