Diane (Chase) Masterani

Date of Death

Diane (Chase) Masterani died November 24, 2023, at her home in Burbank with her husband at her side. She had been battling Alzheimer’s disease for the past several years.
She was born December 7, 1942, on the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the daughter of Juan Jose and Helen (Gonzalez) Padilla. She attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and Hollenbeck Middle School in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles and then graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1961.
After graduation, she worked at “the phone company” (in those days there was only one). She was a beautiful woman who spent time fashion modeling for some of the department stores and was named Miss East L.A. in 1960.
Married in 1964, she took time to raise her three children, Darin, Lisa and Eric.
She began her career in the Burbank School District as an ESL teacher/aide in the mid-1970s. It was in this role that she found a calling and made a significant difference in the lives of many students. With a natural gift for counseling young people, “Miss Chase” became a mentor and role model to her students. She had a soft, kind approach which faculty and administration soon learned was not a sign of weakness but was her method, a very effective method, of gently but firmly advocating for each and every one of her ESL students. And her students would come to know that she would strongly support them when they were right, but also let them know when they were wrong.
Beyond the requirement of assisting them in learning the language, she took the time to counsel them in important life lessons. She strongly cautioned them against teenage pregnancies, was known to step in to prevent or break up fights at school, went to the jail on more than one occasion “to rescue” one of her kids and sometimes would quietly bring hygiene products for her students to help them adjust to being there. These actions were mutually endearing.
She impressed upon them the importance of learning the English language so that they could “speak up” for themselves and not be limited by their backgrounds or lower expectations.
“El Ingles necesario para vivir y trabajar en los Estados Unidos” was her message. Master the language and you will have more opportunities and benefits. This was something she never stopped preaching — inside or outside the classroom.
Upon retirement in 2007, she enjoyed working in her garden and spending time with her little dog “Maxie.” For many years after her retirement, it was common for students in town to stop her and proudly share their accomplishments, and one could tell by their excitement how much they loved and appreciated her. Colleagues tell similar stories of students asking about her and how fondly she was remembered.
She is survived by her husband of more than twenty years, Tom Masterani and a total of five children, Darin Chase (Hasmik), Lisa Chase-Ceballos (Pedro), Eric Chase (Holly), Ginny Linenberger (Darrick) and Valerie Lewis (Ryan), in addition to seven grandchildren, DJ, Katie, Levi, Carter, Cole, Clay and Hayley. She was preceded in death earlier this year by the passing of our much-loved Shih Tzu, Max, a month short of his 17th birthday.
A rosary prayer will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 14th, at St. Robert Bellarmine Church with a funeral Mass on Saturday, December 16th, at 11 a.m. at the Church, located at 520 E. Orange Grove Avenue in Burbank. There will be a reception immediately after the Mass in St. Eleanor Hall, located behind the church. All are welcome.
Some have asked if donations could be made to any organization in her memory. We are in the early stages of setting up an annual scholarship or award in her name to be given to ESL students here in Burbank. If you are interested in contributing to this, please reach out to Tom Masterani.