Throughout a career in social work at New York area hospitals, Diana Guida Brown gave passionate voice to the needs and dignity of hospital patients when she perceived them as being overlooked, sometimes going to the state house in Albany to fight for new legislation, or advocating for policy changes locally such as for the first AIDS patients in the early 1980s. Fittingly and true to her own final intention, Diana died peacefully at her Leonia, New Jersey home while receiving hospice care. She was 88 years old.
As the younger daughter born to Anna Avallone Guida Masciari and Crescenzo Francis (Joe) Guida, Diana would grow up in New York City and then Glendale, California. Her parents divorced while she and her sister, Dolores Ann Guida Ferraro, were very small and later remarried (Anna to Louis Masciari, Joe to Virginia) and she gained her brother Edward Francis Guida, with whom she was forever connected by their shared birthday. Diana graduated from Glendale High School in 1952 and began attending Glendale College.
At her family’s behest, she quit Glendale College and her secretarial job with the Los Angeles office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to accompany her grandmother back to New York City. There, she attended Columbia University School of General Studies to earn her bachelor’s degree in Sociology while working part time in the Dean of Study’s Office. That Dean, Arthur Washburn Brown, would marry Diana in 1959 and delay his graduate work so Diana could attend Fordham University School of Social Work to complete her master’s degree in social work (MSW) in 1961. Years later, Diana and her children would care for Arthur as he suffered from, and then succumbed in 1990, to heart disease. His early loss marked her always, and until her death, he remained the great love of her life.
Diana’s first job as a social worker at Flower-Fifth Avenue Hospital earned her recognition by Glamour Magazine (September 1965) as being a “Girl with Go Jobs.” Other “Go Jobs” would include being Chief Social Worker at the Archdiocese of Newark Mt. Carmel Guild Child Study Center, Assistant Director and then Associate Director of Social Work at NYU Medical Center, Director of Social Work at Schneider’s Children’s Hospital and Director of Social Work at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. She served on the Town of Leonia Juvenile Conference Committee for many years, and later health committees in Bergen County.
Diana partnered on many social work journal articles such as “The Social Work Role in Hospital Discharge Planning” in Social Work in Health Care Vol 4, No.1 Fall 1978 and “A Model for Group Intervention with the Chronically Ill: Cystic Fibrosis and the Family” published both in Social Work and Pediatrics, Ruth B. Smith & Helen G. Clinton, Eds, and in Social Work in Health Care Vol. 21, No. 1 1995. In 1972, she published a book called Developmental Handicaps in Babies and Young Children: A Guide for Parents. (Charles C. Thomas, Publisher.)
In “retirement,” Diana’s various volunteer roles included becoming a Disaster Mental Health Clinician for both the Medical Reserve Core in Bergen County, New Jersey, and the American Red Cross in both New York and New Jersey. These led her to respond to bank robberies, fires and other disasters, including the September 11, 2001 attacks (where she worked for months at Ground Zero offering support groups and counseling to first responders) and the occasional plane landing in the Hudson River. Diana also volunteered with the Bergen County Division of Senior Services Health Committee (which she chaired for a time).
Throughout her life, Diana’s faith sustained her, and she remained active at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Leonia, New Jersey for more than 50 years, serving on the AIDS ministry team and leading fund raisers to bring the AIDS Memorial Quilt locally each year.
Diana was preceded in death by her parents and her sister. She is survived by her children Rev. Marisa Anne Brown Ludwig (Peter Ludwig) and Gian Arthur Brown (Dawn Brown), her grandchildren Morgan Jack Brown Ludwig and Conor Seadon Brown Ludwig, her brother Edward Francis Guida (June Taft), her nephews Vincent and Michael Ferraro, her niece Ashli Thompson (nee Guida), Ann Guida, and many cousins, friends and former co-workers who remained in touch until the end of her life.
Following Diana’s wishes, there will not be a funeral service but her family will schedule a celebration of life in Spring 2024. In the meantime, and in lieu of flowers, Diana would want well-wishers to make time to savor a Sunday New York Times, accompanied by an afternoon drink – Diana would opt for water with a mere splash of Dewars scotch, an unbearably sweet glass of Rose wine or a decaffeinated Medaglia d’Oro espresso – while a football game plays on in the background.