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Zoya Gathings Martin was gifted to this world in April 3, 1953 in Newark, NJ as the second child of James and Geneveive Gathings. The other six siblings being, Stephen, John, Maya, Ana, Claire and Mildred, respectively.
At a young age, Zoya was thrust into the important and equally challenging sisterly responsibility of helping tend to the physical, and often, emotional needs of her younger siblings. It could be argued that in the process of aiding them through their childhood, she relinquished parts of her own, inadvertently bestowing her with the heart and mind she needed to fulfill her duties. Little did Zoya know, that these early struggles would ultimately define her personality, purpose, and life’s mission as a devoted caretaker, an inquisitive mentor, and a stouthearted friend to any and all who would accept her into their lives.
Zoya would likely agree that her life was forever changed for the better when her Aunt Claire insisted she quit her ribbon factory job to attend Ramapo College. It was during these pivotal academic years that Zoya learned not only the skills she would later use as a behavioral psychologist, but also to embrace the parts of herself that yearned for fun, excitement, and companionship as she zipped about the campus, getting into mischief with her friends who would come to know her as “Zippy”.
It wasn’t long before Zippy found herself drawn to Kenneth Martin, a well-read young man with a reserved energy and passion for life that rivaled her own, who would become the love of her life for the next 47 years. Together, they moved to Marianna, FL, on a bet that Kenny could make millions repairing air conditioners. Although he didn’t become a millionaire, he became a successful master electrician, well respected for his service to the City of Marianna while Zoya took several positions in social work, a supervisor for Sunland, a case worker at the Department of Children and Family services, as well as a case manager at Jackson County Senior Citizens.
As a social worker, Zoya saw some of the best and worst in people, but she always strived to see the best in everyone. She helped those who could not help themselves even if she had to open her own wallet to do so. She stood up for people who were being mistreated or taken advantage of, even if it meant standing up against people in positions of power and higher authority, and she did it all by following the law and doing what was right in her heart.
Zoya was a unique character to say the least. She didn't judge or accept people based on social constructs like race, status or religion, but by their sincerity, honesty, and uprightness. Although many of her colleagues were intimidated, and sometimes shocked by the way she carried herself on the job and her stern, calculated demeanor. Those that took the time to know her were blessed with humor, compassion and guidance when few others were willing or able to provide it.
Zoya was a firm believer in keeping life as fun and simple as possible. She knew that life was already complicated and difficult as it is. She took what she applied at work and made it practical for all areas of her life. She preached the importance of taking data moderations in all things, being specific, and using logic to overcome obstacles, even in extremely emotional situations. This certainly did not mean she was without emotion.
Quiet and contrary, she was passionate, often becoming the star of her own show and the life of the party wherever she was, except in the morning before she had her coffee. She loved animals, concerts, playing bingo, and going on adventures with her Kenny and her nephew, Logan, who knew her as Dee Dee.
Even after an abrupt early retirement, Zoya's zeal for life only grew as she spent her remaining years bringing joy, wisdom, and love to anyone who came to Martin Manor. She would say "As you get older, it becomes all about the food." You could tell she was serious because she enjoyed a good meal whether she was at a fancy restaurant, served a fine veal parmesan and tiramisu for desert (which actually brought her to tears) or if she was at home, indulging in a simpler prepared supper of mash potatoes, green beans and a hamburger patty. One could say that she appreciated the finer things in life because her family couldn't afford them, but she also valued the little things because that's what she grew up with, and she knew even the little things were often important, sometimes even more so than you think.
Above all else, she understood the importance of memories and would share hers regularly. She impressed upon us, the value of keeping family and good friends close, through good times and hard times. So that's what she did. Although she could no longer bring light into other's lives as a profession, she found a way to do it just by being herself. What a wonderful story she lived!!
But like all won derail stories, Zoya "Zippy" Gathings Martin final chapter came to a close on October 24, 2023. Before turning that last page, she wanted everyone to know she was going to see her Kenny and her Nana. If she were here right now, I have a feeling she would want to finish things off with a song she loved to sing from "The Carol Burnett Show" - "Im so glad we had this time together, just to have a laugh or sing a song. Seems we just get started and before you know it, comes the time we have to say, so long.
I will love you equal as always..... DeeDee
No services are planned at this time. Memorialization will be by cremation with Marianna Chapel Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.