Over the Hill

Parkinson’s isn’t stopping Diane Hahn

When Diane Hahn was 18, she had no idea she’d someday develop Parkinson’s disease. She was crowned that year as queen of the 1949 Paso Robles Almond Blossom Festival.

In those days, many hills and plains surrounding Paso Robles bristled with almond orchards. Each year around Presidents Day, the orchards were lathered with white or pale pink blossoms whose fragrance rode the breezes.

She attended UCSB and met her future husband, Forest Hahn. She never dreamed she’d someday have Parkinson’s.

In 1955, she competed for the title of Mrs. California. Of course, she never thought about getting Parkinson’s. The statewide competition was in Los Angeles. She’d qualified for it by winning the “Mrs. Paso Robles” contest and then the regional contest in Santa Maria.

It wasn’t a beauty pageant, although appearance and personality were considered. There was no swimsuit competition. Instead the 22 Mrs. California participants competed in cooking and baking, all on gas stoves. One of the sponsors was the Southern Counties Gas Co.

Each contestant was given a yard of material and assigned to a sewing machine to produce a finished garment. Mrs. Hahn made an apron. The contestants were also judged on their ability to iron a man’s shirt.

Had Mrs. Hahn won the Mrs. California title, she would have gone on to the 17th annual Mrs. America Pageant in Florida, but someone else won.

She’s been an active member of her church and community organizations and a hard-working volunteer. She was an outstanding fundraiser. The annual enchilada sale for the A.F.S. international students program was one of her favorite causes. But for many years, she never thought of getting Parkinson’s.

It was about 15 years ago when her doctor suspected that she had Parkinson’s. He noticed she shuffled when she walked. It has steadily worsened to include tremors, loss of balance, falling and other disabilities.

But she’s retained her fundraising talents. She raises money for Parkinson’s research. She’s now soliciting funds for the Annual Walk For Parkinson’s Disease on April 30 in Pismo Beach sponsored by the Central Coast Parkinson’s Support Group. All proceeds benefit Parkinson’s research.

These days, Mrs. Hahn fundraises by mail. For last year’s walk, she sent out 80 letters and collected more than $2,000. To donate, make your check payable to CCPSG/WALK. You may mail it to Diane Hahn, 1117 Putter Ave., Paso Robles, CA 93446.

For more information, call her at 238-4628 or CCPSG at 474-0712.

Reach Phil Dirkx at phild2008@sbcglobal.net or 238-2372.