Diana Mae Elder


Diana Mae Elder, 81, died January 4, 2022 at Carle Hospital in Urbana, Illinois after a decade’s long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Born March 4, 1940, in Kenosha, WI, she was the daughter of the late Herbert and Mildred (Rasmussen) Knoespel.

She graduated from Kenosha High School in 1958.   Diana went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Illinois Wesleyan University, a Certification in Christian Education in the United Methodist Church, and Master of Divinity at Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston.   

On December 29, 1962, she married her husband, James Cloyd Elder, in Kenosha, WI.

Diana was a life-long learner and for the first many years of her adult life worked as a teacher throughout Central Illinois.   Her teaching career included:  U.S. history at Carpentersville High School; kindergarten in Gifford, Enion, and Galesburg; special education at Blue Mound Grade School; director of the Blue Mound United Methodist Church preschool; 4th and 5th grade at Enterprise Elementary School in Decatur; and a teacher’s aide at Cunningham Children’s Home in Urbana.  After receiving her Christian Education certification, she served as Director of Education and Programs at First United Methodist Church in Urbana.  She also taught Sunday School or Bible study at the many United Methodist Church parishes where she and her husband served.

Licensed as a local pastor in 1990 and ordained an Elder in the United Methodist Church in 1996, she served as pastor at Cullom and Lovington United Methodist Churches, retiring in 2002.  

Diana is survived by: three sons, James J. (Dawn) of Assumption, IL, Mark D. (Jim) of Alexandria, VA, and Andrew T. (Michelle) of Chenoa, IL; her brother, Gerald (Peggy) of North Ft. Myers, FL; six grandchildren, Danielle (Harley) Cravens of Tower Hill, IL, Mykaela Elder of Leroy, IL, Brooke Elder of Assumption, IL, Ashtin, Avery, and Aidan Elder of Chenoa, IL; and three great grandchildren, Isabella, Jacob, and Sawyer Cravens.

She was preceded in death by her husband, James C. Elder, and a granddaughter Sarah Michelle.

A gifted soprano, Diana sang in school and church choirs and as a soloist.  She also enjoyed swimming, golf, travel, continuing education, many friends, and her family.

Renner-Wikoff Chapel & Crematory, 1900 S. Philo Rd., Urbana is in charge of arrangements.  A private memorial service will be held for immediate family on Wednesday January 12 at 11am due to the current COVID situation.  An open burial will take place in the Centennial Cemetery (Villa Grove South Cemetery), Villa Grove, Illinois at 12:30pm. 

Gifts, designated in memory of Rev. Diana Elder, can be made either to:  First United Methodist Church, 210 W. Church St., Champaign, IL 61820; or Cunningham Children’s Home, PO Box 878 Urbana, IL 61803. 

Condolences may be offered a www.renner-wikoffchapel.com.  To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Diana M Elder, please visit our floral store.