It is with great sadness that the family of Joel Brian Diffendaffer (aka “Diff”) announces his passing after an aneurysm and aortic dissection. Joel passed away on August 4, 2018 at the age of 44 while on vacation in Colorado. He was taken away too soon and left behind a wife, Lori Diffendaffer, and a four year old daughter, Ava Diffendaffer. Joel is also survived by his parents, Ron and Carol Diffendaffer of Scottsbluff, Nebraska; his brother, Dr. Clark Diffendaffer (and his wife Diana) of North Platte, Nebraska; his sister, Elizabeth Kalinowski (and her husband Joseph) of Park City, Montana; his mother in-law and father in-law, Alice and Jim Harnes of Port Isabel, Texas; and his sister in-law and brother in-law, Deborah and Paul Moore of North Bethesda, Maryland.
Joel attained many accomplishments during his life. As a professional musician, he travelled the world and performed with GRAMMY Award-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer. Joel’s performance experience also included singing with Kansas City ensembles Armonia and Kantorei, professionally recording in Orlando, and performing with a barbershop quartet at Tokyo Disney Sea in Japan, as well as many other engagements. Driven by a desire to share his love of music and transform the lives of young adults, Joel earned his master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (where he also earned his bachelor’s degree) and assumed his first teaching role at The Barstow School. He then taught choir at the upper school of The Pembroke Hill School for 10 years and also served as Performing Arts Chair. During his tenure, his choirs won numerous awards at the World Strides Chicago Heritage Festival and performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City multiple times. In the most recent Carnegie Hall appearance, one of the Pembroke choirs performed solo on stage as a featured choir under Joel’s baton.
Outside of music, Joel held diverse interests. As an avid cyclist, he worked at the Trek bike store in Shawnee, KS during many summer breaks. He loved riding for causes, including the MS 150, and tackled as many mountain passes as he could. He twice rode the Copper Triangle in Colorado. In addition, Joel had a passion for finance and became accomplished in options trading, while also learning all he could about cryptocurrency. In his spare time, Joel poured himself into how to fix anything and everything related to the house and cars. He reveled in the details, and this detail-oriented nature extended to his obsession for a perfectly manicured lawn. Of all of these interests, nothing surpassed his love for being a devoted husband, father, son, brother and Christian. His church home was the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
Joel will forever be remembered for his megawatt smile and unwavering kindness and positivity. These attributes made a profound impact on the lives of his students, friends and family, and every person he came across.
A celebration of Joel’s life will be held on August 18, 2018 at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (Sanctuary): 13720 Roe Ave, Leawood, KS 66224. Public viewing will begin at 8:30 am CT and the funeral service will begin at 10 am CT, followed by a reception. Those who cannot attend may view live streaming of the service via the following link: www.cor.org/memorialsonline.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Pembroke Hill School Joel Diffendaffer Memorial Fund, which will allow the kindness and positivity of Joel to continue making an impact on the lives of Pembroke students in need. Checks can be mailed to: 5121 State Line Rd, Kansas City, MO 64112.