Dian K. Reynolds, a writer, producer, stage manager, and lover of the arts on the Outer Cape and beyond, died at her home in Wellfleet on Jan. 28, 2024. The cause was pneumonia. She was 93.
Dian was a writer and producer for WGBH, an art collector who, her son Adam Miller said, “liked quirky things,” a lifelong voracious reader, and a lover of poetry. “From the 1940s until the end of her life, she tried to see every movie, play, ballet, museum, opera, and concert she could,” he said. She served for many years as a trustee of the Wellfleet Public Library.
She was born Diane Kaufman in New York City on July 1, 1930 to Shirley Marsh and David Kaufman. She grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and attended the Walden School. Her grandfather, concerned about her safety, had his chauffeur drive her to school; embarrassed, she insisted on being dropped off two blocks away.
Her father, Adam said, “was a man about town” who introduced her to a cultural life that became as necessary to her as oxygen. He took her at an early age to a Joe Louis fight and to the Copacabana, where she sat on Al Jolson’s knee.
Dian’s best friend in high school was Mike Nichols, a German émigré who went on to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. The pair wrote satirical pieces for their high school magazine and went to first-run Broadway musicals, including Oklahoma!
Dian attended Bard College and New York University. During those years she lopped the “e” off her given name, but she did not graduate, deciding in 1951 to marry Daniel Miller. The wedding, Adam said, “was an insanely elaborate affair at the Pierre Hotel.” The marriage ended in divorce in 1972. Dian later finished her undergraduate work at the University of Rhode Island with a degree in library science.
A charter member of the Trinity Square Repertory Company in Providence, Dian served as a stage manager and artistic adviser to director Adrian Hall. She helped stage Truman Capote’s The Grass Harp, Robert Penn Warren’s Brother to Dragons, and Feasting With Panthers, a play that used letters and transcripts from Oscar Wilde, for the Theater America Series in the 1970s.
“Our house was a hub for theater and arts people in Rhode Island,” Adam said. “Actors are like grown-up kids, which inspired my brother Sam’s and my interest in the arts.”
At WGBH, Dian researched and wrote the four-part 1979 adaptation of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, starring Meg Foster and John Heard. At that time, WGBH was dominated by “a lot of stuffy Yankee men,” said Adam, so when Dian pitched a show on Zora Neale Hurston’s life, “they wouldn’t bite.”
In the mid-1960s, Dian began spending summers in a cottage on Wellfleet’s Blackfish Creek, which she later bought. In 1989, with her second husband, Edwin Reynolds, whom she married in 1983, she built a house and moved to Wellfleet year-round.
“She was a great cook and loved clams and mussels,” said Adam. She also went for hour-long swims at Long Pond or in Blackfish Creek at high tide, with Ed watching from the shore as she disappeared in the distance. Late in life she swam with a group of women at Powers Landing, where even in her 80s “she would swim past the boats,” Adam said. She also loved to kayak.
With Winnie Lubell and classics professor David Connor, she organized a study group to learn ancient Greek and translate the works of Homer. The meetings rotated among the houses of the participants and went on for more than a decade.
She programmed the library’s summer lecture series, and every year she took charge of the rare books at book sales.
Dian collected paintings and prints, mostly by Outer Cape artists — but not many seascapes. “She was kind of an art snob,” Adam said, “and liked something adventurous.”
As a legacy to honor her son Sam, who died at 67, Dian supported the construction of Sam’s Stage at Castle Hill in Truro, the site of the annual Provincetown Dance Festival, whose artistic director is Adam.
After Dian’s death, Adam found a 100-page manuscript on the history of women’s handbags and purses stuffed in a file cabinet, evidence of her always active, curious, and inventive mind, he said.
She is survived by sons Adam Miller of Wellfleet and Joshua Miller and wife Nancy Miller of Cranston, R.I. and by three grandchildren, Nick and Owen of Brooklyn and Alex Miller and wife Theresa of Cranston. She is also survived by Sam Miller’s widow, Anne Boardman-Miller of Philadelphia, by her brother, Steven Kaufman of New York City, and by two sisters, Amy Goot of Bethesda, Md. and Sandra Serebin of New York City.
She was predeceased by her husband, Edwin Reynolds, and sons Samuel A. Miller and Zachary Miller.
Dian’s family is deeply grateful to her caregivers and the VNA hospice.
Burial will be private; a public memorial is being planned for the spring.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Dian’s memory to the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill to support its performing arts programs.
Editor’s note: Because of a fact-checking error, an earlier version of this article, published in print on Feb. 8, misspelled the name of the illustrious American boxing champion Joe Louis.