Jannie Martin was born on June 3, 1934 at Phillips Coal Camp in West Virginia, to Harvey and Clara Davis. She was the
second of what would be 6 children. Despite their humble beginnings in that coal camp her mother knew what she
wanted for her children. Jannie grew up in Sophia, WV, had perfect attendance at the Methodist Church, played first
chair clarinet in the band, was co-captain of the field hockey team, active in 4H, and graduated high school as
salutatorian of her class.
Jannie went on to pursue her education, graduating summa cum laude from West Virginia Wesleyan with a major in
English and a minor in PE. She was the vice president of Alpha Gamma Delta at Wesleyan. She would later work there
and act as the assistant dean of women. Jannie spent summers working as a camp counselor at Massanutten Springs.
She received her Master’s in Guidance Counseling from Ohio University. Later she would continue her education, gaining
a Master’s plus and working towards her PHD at the University of Delaware.
While living in Washington, D.C. Jannie married Bryan Ross Martin, and gave birth to a daughter, Monica Michelle
Martin. In 1967 she moved to Delaware with her daughter, and began her life as a single parent. She needed a vehicle
and was advised by the salesman that she didn’t need a car, she needed a man to take care of her and her beautiful
daughter. She bought her car elsewhere. While Jannie did not wave the flag of feminism, that’s how she lived her life, as
an independent, well educated woman who could take care of her own. She worked as a guidance counselor at Milford
High School, Delaware Technical Community College Terry Campus, and Smyrna High. In the mid 70’s Jannie did pick up
a picket sign, along with other educators in DE, after a teacher’s pay increase was vetoed. Many in the state went on
strike, which was illegal, and gained national press. In the early 90s she worked as part of a team of teachers at Milford
High on the Transition Project that codified methods to help prepare students for their work or educational future. Ms.
Martin was named Guidance Counselor of the Year for the 90-91 school year. Upon her retirement there was a senior
award named after her. A former colleague recently said, “She will always remain a very bright spot for me, that rare
friend willing to stop whatever she was focused on to listen attentively to another, kindness personified.”
Jannie was well known for her service to the community and her work as an artist and craftsmen. Ms. Martin was the
president of the Auxiliary for Milford Memorial Hospital when they were taken over by Bay Health. She was able to work
with the architect on the new entrance and gift shop, insisting there be natural lighting, plantings, and music to welcome
guests. She was also the vice president of Downtown Milford, Inc, and a friend of the Milford Public Library. In the late
70s/early80s she did costuming for the Delaware Regional Ballet Company in Dover. She was a devoted member of
Avenue Methodist Church. She knitted projects for the church’s craft and Christmas bazaars, and donated blankets she
made to the hospital’s maternity ward. She was the costume mistress for Zwaanendael Dance Academy in the 90’s, a
school in Milford owned by her daughter. She was accomplished in needle point, embroidery, and cross stitch. Later in
life she delved into painting on canvas and ceramics.
Having been raised in the mountains of W.V. Jannie deeply loved the beaches. While living in D.C. she spent many
weekends at Virginia Beach. After moving to Delaware, she loved being at the Rehoboth Boardwalk with her family.
Jannie owned timeshares in Bethany, and would spend Christmas and Easter vacations there with her daughter and
granddaughter. Her sister had a condo in Ocean City which she visited a lot, and Ocean Pines was another favorite
haunt. She could often be seen at Victoria’s or Fisherman’s Wharf on Sundays for brunch after church. She spent her
final days at Harbor Healthcare in Lewes, where she passed peacefully in the night on October 19th. Covid-19 and a
failure to thrive are listed as the cause of death.
Jannie was preceded in death by both her parents Harvey and Clara Davis, as well as her brothers, Robert and Harvey
Lee Davis, and sister in law Ann Davis. She is survived by her daughter and son in law, Michelle and Mark Parisi. Her
granddaughter (the joy of her life) and grandson in law, Monica Starr and Kevin Larkin. Her siblings Annie Danna, James
Davis, and Mary Davis. Her brother and sisters in law Peggy Davis, Ronald Danna, and Sue Davis. As well as many much
loved nephews and a niece, and their children. Due to the current pandemic there are no services planned. Her daughter
asks that everyone who would like to honor her mother please wear a mask, and adhere to all public safety protocols.
Jannie Martin was an amazing woman, and we are losing too many people like her. In lieu of flowers please donate time
or money, whatever you can, to help those most in need now.
Services will be private
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