Jacquelyn “Dianne” Junkins Gregg, age 69, of Madison, passed away on August 4, 2020, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. She died peacefully, surrounded by her family.
Dianne was a warrior. She fought this battle bravely and valiantly for almost a year, with a strength and grace that is unparalleled, but how she fought pancreatic cancer wouldn’t be at the top of her list for what she wanted to be remembered.
Dianne was born in LaFayette on August 22, 1950, to the late Jack Wilson Junkins and Cleo Brown Junkins. A 1968 graduate of LaFayette High School, she went on to complete a degree in Education from the University of West Georgia. She married her beloved soul-mate, Charles Randy Gregg, in 1973 and embraced the role of the “preacher’s wife” with authenticity, humor, hospitality, love, and her own “out-of-the-box” style that others commented was refreshing and real. They served six churches in Georgia and Kentucky, and the testament to their ministry and love for people is evident in the lifelong friendships they hold from each of these communities. They completed their young family with Lindsay Dianne and Laura Leigh. As Dianne said, there was not one minute that her girls brought her anything but joy.
Dianne was a worker. She believed in the value of an education and working hard. She went on to earn her Master’s degree and taught children in the public school setting for almost 30 years in the various communities in which they lived. She was also an entrepreneur, owning a shoe store in Cartersville, a gift shop in Montezuma and a small, in-home catering business, Sweet Dee’s, for a while in Madison.
Dianne was a friend. Her friends described her as “genuine, generous, loving, nonjudgmental, inclusive, hospitable, fiercely loyal, a giver not a taker.” One friend said they will each take a piece of her with them to make the world a better place. “That’s what she did best,” this friend said, “she inspired goodness because she was so good.” Another friend said, “She loved you with her whole heart, and as little as she was, she had a huge heart, so there was lots of room for everyone in it.”
Despite the many hats she wore, her favorite title was “Dee.” Although this started out as the title given to her by her grandchildren, Harrison, Lily, Grant, and Caroline, this became what she was affectionately called by many of her friends and her family’s friends. She was actively involved in her four grandchildren’s lives. Whether it was volunteering in their classrooms, helping with M-Powered, coming to sporting events and other activities, or sitting quietly on the couch scratching a back, she was intentional about being present in their lives. They loved and adored her, and so did their friends. Her grandchildren described Dee as, “loving, funny, never inconvenienced, someone who didn’t want to leave any pages empty…she wanted to make lots of memories.”
Being with her family is what made Dianne the happiest. She treasured her husband of almost 47 years and their two daughters, Lindsay and Laura. She knew she won the jackpot with her sons-in-law (Todd and Michael). They were the sons she never had, and it was a running joke that she actually liked them more than her daughters, and her four grandchildren were her heart walking outside her body. Her sister, Myra, was her best friend; she loved Rick, her brother-in-law, like a brother. Her nieces, Allison and Courtney, were her “other” daughters, and Andrew, Abigail, Katie, Cassie, and Conner were her second set of grandchildren. She loved to travel, host a party, could turn anything into a celebration, and she paid attention to the details and what made people feel special. She loved well, and, in turn, she was well-loved.
Dianne was a testament to a life well lived. A chair could always be added to her table, her door was always open (with a cute door hanger), sheets could always be thrown on her guest bed, and everyone was seen as worthy to be loved.
Dianne dreamed of telling her story of beating pancreatic cancer, of living to inspire and encourage others and give them hope. While she lost that battle here on Earth, her story was so much bigger. Her absence leaves an unfathomable hole, but the gift of her life and how she lived it and loved those around her will remain forever. What a worthy story to be told; that’s the story we’ll tell.
She is survived by her husband, Charles Randy Gregg; her daughters, Lindsay Peaster and her husband Todd; Laura Hardester and her husband Michael, all of Madison; her sister Myra Junkins Cameron and her husband Rick, of Kathleen; a brother-in-law Robert Gregg and his wife Rosemary, of Birmingham; four grandchildren: Harrison and Grant Peaster and Lily and Caroline Hardester, all of Madison; nieces Allison (Scott) Tarrer and Courtney (Kevin) Shields, nephews Shannon (Sonnet) Gregg, John (Laure) Gregg, and Tyler Gregg; great nieces and nephews, Andrew and Abigail Tarrer, Katie, Cassie, and Conner Shields, and Agnes Rose and Oliver Gregg. She was also survived by a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends, all of whom she loved greatly with her whole heart.
A.E. Carter Funeral Home in Madison, Georgia, is in charge of the arrangements. Due to social distancing restrictions, there will be a private family graveside service. A Celebration of her life and love will be held at a later date. Details to be determined, but ALL will be welcome.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made in her memory to the We Care Fund at the Medical College of Wisconsin, to further the research of prevention, treatment, and finding a cure for pancreatic cancer.
Donations may be made to the We Care Fund at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Attn: Office of Development, 8701 Watertown Plank road, Milwaukee, WI, 53226. Memorial gifts may also be made online at www.mcw.edu/giving .