Diana Gallardo was a spiritual traveler, lifetime learner, passionate teacher, avid golfer, elite athlete, inventive dancer, and dedicated patron of the arts. She died peacefully at her home in Billings, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011, at age 77. She will be missed by the many she touched throughout her life and most especially by those here in Billings. She gave of herself to others and served as an inspiring role model in her enlightened view of the capacity and intellect of the human body. She was multi-talented and fearless in her approach to life.
She was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., June 18, 1934, the daughter of Albert and Marta Gallardo. In upstate New York, she attended a two-room country grade school. Once out of high school Diana eventually made her way to California to study dance and earn her M.A. at USC. Diana studied the Martha Graham technique under Gloria Newman, ballet from Gene Marinaccio, and Tai Chi Chuan at the Kai Ying Tung Academy. She was an associate professor of physical education at UCLA and a sports champion through much of her life. At a pre-Olympic track meet in 1960, Diana became the first American woman to run the 800 meters under 2 minutes and 20 seconds. After the age of 50, while in private practice, she returned to sports for recreation. In 1989, she became the Eastmoreland tennis club women doubles and mixed doubles champion, the 1989 Oregon State Champion in the 55 senior division. After 10 years, she left Oregon and moved to Billings. In 1992, she became a member of the U.S.T.A. Montana State 3.5 championship team, and the 1993 Montana State 4.0 championship team. Diana was an avid golfer who competed regularly. In 2010, Diana played a role in the Monologues where she had an opportunity to dance and act. In 2011, she scaled down the First Interstate building to help raise money for Montana Special Olympic Athletes.
Diana Gallardo, innovative founder of the Body Awareness Learning Center, was a certified teacher of the Feldenkrais Method and one of the few remaining students in the world to have actually studied under founder Moshe Feldenkrais. Through his methodology, Diana expanded her knowledge about the human body and consciousness. Her goal was to not only rehabilitate bodies after suffering physical traumas, but also to learn how to become more aware of the connection between mind, body and spirit. Anyone who studied with her or benefitted from one of her classes was touched by her wisdom and love of the human body. She has gone on to her next assignment!
Survivors include a sister, Nora Gallardo-Hamond and brother-in-law Eugene of Plattekill, N.Y., brother, Albert "Tico" Gallardo of Clintondale, NY, four nieces and nephews and her cat, Bambi.
Special thanks to JoElla and the All Nations group for their compassion and caring.
Cremation has taken place and a social gathering to celebrate Diana's life will be forthcoming by invitation. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Diana's name to The Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter.