Minnesota philanthropist Diane Sims Page passes away from breast cancer

Image 1 of 3

Minnesota icon and longtime philanthropist Diane Sims Page passed away over the weekend from breast cancer.

Many people knew her as the wife of Vikings Hall of Famer and former State Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, but Diane made a name for herself.

"I miss her so much,” said Doris Baylor, a longtime friend. “She was a great friend, a wonderful leader, a compassionate parent."

Every morning at 6 a.m., Baylor and her husband walked around Lake of the Isles with Alan and Diane. But now they are feeling out of step because a crucial member of their group is gone.

"It’s been an adjustment to know how to continue that wonderful tradition with all of us feeling so sad from the emptiness with Diane not being there," said Baylor.

Baylor says Diane and Alan met in the early ‘70s when Alan was one of the Minnesota Vikings’ famed Purple People Eaters and the two were instantly smitten with each other. The couple eloped in 1973 and raised a family, doing everything together from long distance running to collecting maple syrup.

"They really complimented each other,” said Baylor. “Alan was the visionary and the thinker. Diane was the 'get it done.'"

In 1988, the couple started the Page Education Foundation, which gives college scholarships to students of color across the state as a way to give back to the community. Earlier this year, the Pages put the collection of Americana they gathered to teach their children about the nation's troubled history with race relations on display at the Hennepin County Library for Super Bowl week. 

"The fact that if we understand our history,” said Baylor. “We won't repeat it. That was very important to her."

Whether it was through her family or their foundation, Baylor says Diane was a leader who wanted to make the world a better place, and she helped others realize in their own way that they could be leaders too.

"She had a great life and she said she would never change anything about it,” said Baylor. “She had the love of her life, amazing children, talented and loving grandchildren. She just wished she could have stayed longer."