To have a friend, you have to be a friend.
These are words that Diana Folleth believes in. Friends have been family for Folleth, who lost her husband Tom five years ago to brain and lung cancer, and is a breast cancer survivor of 13 years herself.
“I feel truly blessed with the friends I have,” Folleth said. “When you lose a spouse of 43 years, you immediately think you are done; the couples you socialized with will no longer be interested in having you around. Not so. I still do a lot with them, and I don’t feel the least bit alone.”
Folleth is the owner of Capitol Barricading, a business she started with her husband using their family vehicles in 1982 after moving to Lansing in 1967 from their hometown of Barrington, IL. Capitol provides traffic safety and control throughout Mid-Michigan.
“It was a great move for us. We love Michigan,” Folleth said. “It’s tough leaving family, but we’ve made a lot of friends through church and living in a Big Ten area. It’s easy to get green in your blood.”
Aside from running Capitol, Folleth is an active member of the 100 Club of Lansing and the First Presbyterian Church of Holt. She describes her church family as being very supportive and enjoys having close-knit relationships with them.
Folleth also volunteers at Sparrow Hospital by purchasing toys for the gift shop. After she was finished getting treated for breast cancer, Folleth felt like she needed to give back to the people who supported her at Sparrow.
Along with the Sparrow staff, she remembers how loyal and compassionate her friends were throughout her husband’s illness. It was a longstanding tradition for her and Tom to have dinner with their high school classmates in Barrington every New Year’s Eve, so the year Tom was ill, their friends came to
Folleth enjoys traveling and visiting her siblings across the country. She has visited her sister, who lives in Alaska, taken road trips with the same sister to Oklahoma, where her two other sisters live, been to Hawaii multiple times, visited her brother in Florida, and traveled to St. Louis to celebrate her 70th birthday with her twin brother, his children and her daughter and son-in-law.
When she’s not taking trips, Folleth keeps busy by “trying” to play golf, working in her yard, and spending time with her grandchildren. Five bridge clubs, a canasta club and a poker club also occupy her time.
“We have to play with the hands we’re dealt,” Folleth said. “After Tom passed away, a lot of people wondered how I handled it so well. [Feeling sorry for myself] isn’t going to bring him back, so I might as well enjoy life.”