Dean Christian Diffin, loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend, teacher, and coach, passed away peacefully on Nov. 12, 2017 surrounded by his loving family after a courageous and hard fought battle with pancreatic cancer.
Dean was born on Nov. 3, 1968 in Loyalton, Calif. to Donald Arnez Diffin and Darlene Coleman Diffin. He lived in California and Nevada in his early years but lived the majority of his life in Idaho. He attended schools in Coeur d’Alene, Riggins, and Grangeville before attending high school in Kamiah, graduating in 1987. He was a talented football player, playing college football on athletic scholarships at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. and at Eastern Oregon State College in La Grande, Or. Dean graduated from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science. He later continued his education and received a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Idaho in 2009.
Dean met his true love, Leslie, in 1990 and they married on July 30, 1994. Dean and Leslie cherished their 23 years of marriage and had a love that grew stronger with each passing year. Their love for each other was like no other and they frequently said the following phrase to one another: “Wherever you are, you are always on my mind and in my heart…forever.”
Dean and Leslie moved to Meridian in 1998 where they made their home. Dean started his dream job at Centennial High School in 1999. At Centennial, he was a Social Science teacher and was the Social Science Department Head in recent years. Dean loved coaching football and was proud to be a part of the coaching staff when the football team won the 5A SIC State Championships in 1999 and 2003. Dean had an intense love and knowledge of softball. He was the softball coach at Centennial for many years and received the 5A SIC Softball Varsity Coach of the Year award in 2008 and 2012.
Dean took great pride in being a teacher and coach. He truly went to work each day happy to be around students and strived every day to make a difference in his student’s lives. He truly did make a difference as is evidenced from the memories shared by students with his family. His students remember him as always being there for them, putting student’s needs first, and communicating to them in a way that made them feel important. Dean always had profoundly insightful advice labeled ‘Diffinisms’ by his students. One in particular was his definition of character: “how you treat people you don’t have to be nice to.” Dean’s students and athletes described him as the coach or teacher you only encounter once in a lifetime.
Dean was a great man with a humble soul. He worked hard whether he was in the classroom, on the fields, or involved in one of his many other jobs. He passed this work ethic on to his daughters who were the greatest loves of his life. Sophia Caroline, 16, Grace Marie, 13, and Margaret Darlene, 7, were truly Dean’s reason for living. He was the best teacher to his girls and was happiest when he was with them and involved in their activities. His tough exterior melted when he was around his girls and he frequently spoke in an uncharacteristically soft voice he reserved just for them. His girls melted when in his arms, and felt a love so strong for him while being protected in his unending fatherly care.
Dean was each of his daughter’s first teacher, helping each of them take their first steps, learn how to ride their bikes, how to put on their ‘game face’ and swing correctly at a fast ball, or pay homage to JOBU (the softball world knows what that means).
He also urged his girls to never be boastful, to always be thankful for what they have, and most importantly to be there for each other and always protect each other with their lives. Dean loved coaching his girls on their softball teams and was truly grateful for the experiences he shared with them on the field. He considered those times as some of his most favorite memories with his family.
Dean was an avid hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman. He loved to hunt big game and ride his ATV. He felt most at peace in the outdoors, riding his 4-wheeler while looking for deer or elk, stopping occasionally to take in the scenery while resting on his 4-wheeler at the top of a big mountain. His favorite place was in the mountains above Skookumchuck along the Salmon River.
Dean is survived by his wife of 23 years, Leslie, and his daughters Sophia, Grace, and Margaret. He is also survived by parents, Don (Jackie) Diffin of Lenore and Darlene (Larry) Zimmerman of Deary; grandmother, Alma Coleman of Deary; sisters Leslie Diffin of Clarkston, Wash. and Dawn Michelle (Wade) Melton of Orofino; sisters-in-law Shawnna Stockton of Meridian, Molly (Roger) Cole of Moscow, Bridget Baker of Marlton, N.J. and Cathleen (Jon) Irby of Boise; brother-in-law Kirk (Beth) MacGregor of Grangeville; nieces and nephews Sean (Ashlee) Diffin of Orofino, Sanya (Travis) Summers of Peck, Seth (Madison) Melton of Orofino, Stephanie Melton of Orofino, John (Beverly) Bernard of Clarkston, Wash., Josh Bernard of Council, Jaret Goslin of Clarkston, Wash., Stefanie (Michael) Guy of Boise, Nancy (Connor) McCracken of Boise, Lauren (Dan) McFarland of Mays Landing, N.J., Rick (Sheera) Baker of San Diego, Calif., Sean Baker of Marlton, N.J., Keely MacGregor of Grangeville, Maximus MacGregor of Grangeville, Rex Irby of Boise and Ruth Irby of Boise; uncle Lee Coleman of Reno, Nev., and aunts Nora (Claude) Lincoln of Stockton, Calif. and Olivia Corona of Sacramento, Calif. and countless friends and loved ones he adored.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Dan Zuckerman and the amazing staff at Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise. Their positivity and loving care was appreciated so much by Dean and his family. The staff at St. Luke’s Boise and St. Luke’s Meridian can never be thanked enough for the love and care given to Dean during various hospital stays, which will never be forgotten by his family.
A vigil service was held Nov. 17 and funeral mass will was celebrated Nov. 18 at Holy Apostles Catholic Church in Meridian. Burial was held Nov. 19 at Prairie View Cemetery in Grangeville. Remembrances may be left for Dean’s family at www.AccentFuneral.com. Services were under the direction of Accent Funeral Home, Meridian.
Dean wished that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Diffin Girl’s Educational Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank branch.
Dean, please remember the love of your family and friends will be with you for always and forever. “Wherever you are, you are always on our minds and in our hearts…FOREVER.”