More than 300 Bethel Island residents joined Diane Kay Shipway's family in a celebration of life at Scout Hall on Sunday, many sporting the color pink that Shipway loved to wear.

Aside from the usual sharing of fond memories, attendees were able to view a recent documentary Shipway, 61, produced about the famous Chinese fishing vessel that Shipway helped deliver back to Taiwan in early 2012.

"For me personally, to hear her voice as we listened to her on the documentary about the 'Free China' that she oversaw from its conception, tore at my heartstrings," said Bethel Island resident and good friend Cha Cha Cha.

The Chinese Junk sat in the yard of Bethel Island's Marine Emporium for several years before Shipway found a way to return the last-of-its-kind ship to Taiwan.

"Diane went back to Taiwan with the ship and met the president there," said longtime friend Liz Van Sandwyk.

Van Sandwyk first met Shipway at Los Medanos College when they were students there 38 years ago.

Van Sandwyk said what she remembers most about her friend is that she had a memory like a steel trap.

Shipway was born in Somers Point, N.J., on July 16, 1951. She spent her youth on the East Coast where she met and married Ray Shipway Sr. in 1971. The couple moved to Bethel Island after Ray was discharged from the Navy from New London, Conn.

"Diane has always been an active member of the Bethel Island community," Van Sandwyk said. "She was a founding member of the original Bethel Island Water Ski Club and organized the first Frozen Bun Run, which they still do today."


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Shipway is also remembered for her contribution, along with Terry and Shoren Fenton, in helping to build the Bethel Island Community Park.

"As I look over at the Community Park I remember, with fond memories, three of the major park supporters who have now gone to be angels. What a wonderful legacy," Cha said.

Shipway was a one-time secretary to the Bethel Island Chamber of Commerce and worked with the organization for many years helping to organize such events as the Bethel Island Citizen of the Year dinner. She won the top award in 2007.

"Her involvement in the community was vast, and she supported many local organizations," Van Sandwyk said.

Cha remembers Shipway as a mentor and great friend to all those she knew.

"She made us all feel like we were her best friend," Cha said. "She listened when we spoke, she shared her viewpoint, and we all went away wiser after being with her. To say that she will be missed by many is truly an understatement."

After moving to Bethel Island, Shipway worked for Bethel Island's Marine Emporium for many years until she and her husband, Ray, opened Vessel Assist. During her marriage to Ray, the couple operated Vessel Assist operated from 1987 to 1999. After selling the business in 1999, Shipway went to work for Parker Diving Services as a salvage coordinator.

"She worked on several interesting jobs for them, including the Santa Cruz Harbor cleanup after the big tsunami," Van Sandwyk said.

Cha said she would really miss Shipway's support. "I can no longer pick up the phone and ask her questions about the information that I heard, and listen to her say her infamous, 'Oh! Hell No,' when things were incorrect," she said.

Shipway passed away on Dec. 18 due to complications caused by cancer. She is survived by her two sons, Raymond W. Shipway Jr. and Michael J. Shipway of Bethel Island, as well as her granddaughter, Kaitlin "K.T." Shipway. Shipway's sister Claire Potter lives in Middleburg, Fla. Her parents, Kathleen Turnipseede and John Hunter Jr., and her brother, Bruce Hunter, preceded her in death.