Diana R. Tillion, along with her twin brother Leif, was born June 1, 1928 in Paradise, California. They were the youngest of five children born to Hjalmar and Margaret Rutzebeck.
Diana first came to Alaska in 1939 on a 90-foot vessel, the Discoverer. Her mother and stepfather Ray Steinberger, were working at the Independence Gold Mine, outside Palmer, Alaska. She moved to Homer, Alaska, with her family in 1942, and she graduated from Homer High School in 1948.
She initially studied art in New York, London and Paris. She is known for her octopus ink paintings, but was also an accomplished sculptor, poet and writer. She had solo exhibitions at the Anchorage Fine Arts Museum, The Frye in Seattle, Washington, and Crown Zellerbach Gallery in San Francisco, California.
She served as vice president of the Alaska State Council on the Arts and taught art for a decade at the Homer Community College. She was a member of the Alaska Poetry Society and the Alaska President of the National League of American Presswomen. In 2002, she received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Alaska Fairbanks for a “lifetime of passion as a painter, sculptor, teacher, writer, muralist and mentor.”
Even as an artist steadily producing watercolor and ink paintings in her prolific studio, Diana Tillion managed to find time to write. Books by Diana Tillion include: “Guardians of the North Pacific Casino,” 1999; “The Pioneers of Homer,” 2001; Homer Library Top Shelf Publications: “When We Were Kids,” “Growing Tall in Alaska,” “A Mosaic of Moments and Alaska Profiles” and “Cosmo.” She also illustrated numerous other books, including Morgan Sherwood’s “History of Cook Inlet” and cookbooks by Cass Crandall.
She married Clem Tillion in 1952, settling in Halibut Cove, Alaska. They had four children, William, Marian, Martha and Vincent.
Diana died February 3, 2010 in Halibut Cove, Alaska, at 81 years of age.
The sponsor of the Diana Cabin is Cathryn Rasmuson.