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Diane Druckman, former school principal on LI, dies at 72

Diane Druckman.

Diane Druckman. Credit: Druckman family

They met on a blind date and soon realized they had nothing in common. 

She was into sports, he was into cars. She was into words, he was into numbers.

Five weeks later, Joel Druckman of East Meadow asked Diane Tobin of Franklin Square to marry him — and she said yes.

That was the summer of 1968, and Druckman, all of 23, had just been drafted into the U.S. Army.

Fortunately for him, he was a CPA and eventually got posted to Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, where he served out his tour thousands of miles from Vietnam.

Even better, Joel Druckman recalled this week, Diane, then 22, went with him after they got married that Dec. 21, the two driving her 1968 Plymouth Barracuda from Long Island to Anchorage, the first leg of a life that would last more than 50 years together and see them raise three children.

Diane Druckman died July 2 at the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, five days after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. The longtime Long Island educator, who moved to Carnation, Washington, in 2017, four years after her retirement as principal at Wing Elementary School in Islip, was 72.

"We went to bed the night before, laughing and joking, having spent the day strawberry picking with our grandchildren," Joel Druckman said this week. "And then, just like that, the next morning she was struck down. … We were married 50 years, were together 51, and I can't say we didn't have our fights, because we did. … We had nothing in common. But we could talk to each other for hours and hours and hours. We got the jokes nobody else would get. We got each other."

None of it seemed like it might work when Joel and Diane met at a restaurant in Westbury on that first date on May 11, 1968.

Joel had gotten Diane's number from a co-worker in Manhattan who'd met her at a singles event but found she wasn't his type. And, meeting her for the first time on that blind date, Joel first thought that might also be the case with him.

"She was into literature, Shakespeare and sports," he said. "I was into making cars go fast and loud. I was mechanically inclined; she couldn't turn a screw with a screwdriver. What did we have in common? Nothing, nothing at all. But somehow, we were two complementing personalities. And it just worked." 

Weeks after that first date, on June 17, Joel had to report to basic training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Before he left, he asked her to marry him. She said yes, and Joel sold his 1967 COPO Camaro, using the cash to buy an engagement ring. Today that car would be worth well into the six-figure range, he said.

"I told my friends for years," he said, "Diane wore that Camaro on her finger."

Diane Tobin was born Nov. 11, 1946, in Franklin Square, the eldest of three children born to Frieda and David Tobin. Joel said Diane's dad grew up in a foundling home in the Bronx, where then-Yankees star Babe Ruth used to visit.

David and his siblings had been abandoned by their mother, who placed them in that home in 1921, and Ruth — whose own family sent him to be raised in an orphanage and reformatory in Baltimore — came to play baseball with the boys. They even starred in the 1928 movie "Speedy," shot with silent-film star Harold Lloyd at the home — a movie David Tobin can be seen in, Joel Druckman said.

Because of that association, David Tobin taught his girls all about sports. Diane became a devoted fan, her husband said. "She could talk sports with the guys for hours," Joel said. "She loved the Yankees, she loved the Jets."

Diane graduated from Carey High School and Hofstra University and was working as a teacher in the Long Beach school district when she married Joel. She taught on the base in Anchorage, then returned to Long Beach when the couple moved back to Long Island from Alaska, before taking a job in the Islip school district in 1971.

The couple moved to Smithtown in 1974, into a house they bought with a $10 down payment, and raised their children, daughters Amanda and Candice and son Douglas there. After her retirement from Islip, Diane was active in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University.

Joel said Diane did The New York Times crossword puzzle every day, and he called her knowledge of sports "encyclopedic." In retirement, she loved to garden and walk trails in rural Washington, he said, all while remaining a voracious reader.

In addition to her husband, Diane Druckman is survived by daughter Amanda and her husband, Jason Stoffer, of Mercer Island, Washington; daughter Candice and husband Jeffrey Betz, of Issaquah, Washington; son Douglas and wife Bethany Druckman, of Chicago; sister Janice Goldman Rosenbaum, of East Northport; brother Jonathan Tobin, of Cheltenham, Pennsylvania;  and seven grandchildren.

She was buried  in Shoreline, Washington.

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