Diane Catherine Grieco, a Galt volunteer who inspired an outpouring of help in the tightknit community after a recurrence of cancer, died Aug. 22 of the disease, her family said. She was 41.
Radiation reduced a tumor that was first diagnosed in Mrs. Grieco's brain in 2003. Unable to go back to work, however, she turned to helping others in Galt, in southern Sacramento County.
She volunteered at Greer Elementary School and helped raise money for Galt High School and the Jr. Warriors football program. She organized neighborhood National Night Out events and lobbied city officials to build a BMX park for youngsters.
Being a stay-at-home mom enabled her to look after neighborhood kids after school and to drive cancer patients to appointments. As a certified driver's education teacher in Oregon, she help teenagers learn to get behind the wheel.
"She just turned her energy to volunteering," said her sister Toni MacKinnon. "All along, she was always someone who helped others."
Neighbors returned the favor after a new tumor was found in Mrs. Grieco's brain last October. Word spread quickly among parents at Greer and Galt High, where her husband, Russ, was a former football coach.
According to the Galt Herald, local merchants donated services to her family, including haircuts, auto repairs, flowers and nutritional supplements. Restaurants and grocery stores provided free meals that often were delivered by Galt Transit drivers.
"We're a quiet little town out here on our own," Russ Grieco told The Bee. "We help and rely on each other."
Mrs. Grieco was born June 25, 1971, in Placerville to Mary and Bill Kakouras, who managed the Sam's Town entertainment center on Highway 50 in Cameron Park. She graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 1989 and earned an associate's degree as a legal secretary at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore.
Before her illness, she was an administrative assistant at Hewlett-Packard in Roseville. She was married in 2001.
Besides her husband, survivors include her son, Vincent Grieco of Galt; stepson, Tayler Grieco of Chico; sister, Toni MacKinnon of El Dorado Hills; father, Bill Kakouras of Springfield, Ore.; and grandfather, Carmen Giannoccaro of Cupertino.
A celebration of life is set for 11 a.m. today at the Grieco home, 210 Lapwing Lane, Galt. Donations may be made to an education fund for her son; for information, call Vickie Clark at Farmers and Merchants Bank in Galt at (209) 339-2531.
Editor's note: This story was changed Sept. 2 to correct the spelling of Carmen Giannoccaro's name.