Virginia Ann Wheeler Martin, known to her friends as "Jinny,” passed from this world on March 27, 2016 at age 88 of natural causes. At the time of her passing, Jinny was surrounded by loved ones.
Born March 8,1928 in Youngstown, OH, where her father was then employed, the family returned to the county of their pioneer roots, settling in Medina, Ohio in 1930. Virginia Ann Wheeler attended Medina city schools, kindergarten through grade 12 graduating in 1945. She was accepted into Miami University, Oxford Ohio, becoming a member of the Delta Gamma sorority and graduating in 1949 as a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in painting and illustration and minoring in English.
During World War II, Jinny volunteered to paint names of the military personnel serving in the war on a building wall at the Medina comer of South Court and Washington Streets. After college she was employed as a graphic artist by Gowe-Leahy Lithography Co. in Medina until she joined American Airlines as Medina's first Airline Stewardess in July 1950. Based in Tulsa, OK for four years, she continued her pursuit of a Master's degree at Tulsa University as her employment permitted. On 2 OCT 1954 she married Barney Martin, based in Pensacola, FL, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (Class of 1947), a naval aviator and a career officer, in his mother's summer home, Muskegon, MI. They spent their first year of marriage in the Philippines and Japan where he was attached to the naval squadron, VW-3 Det. Able, commissioned at Sangley Point Naval Air Station, PI in June 1955 as VQ-l. Jinny was a co-designer of the squadron's insignia.
Subsequently, after Barney was accepted as a Naval Specialist Officer (Intelligence) in late 1955, the Martins lived for 3 months in Japan, returning to the USA in January 1956. They purchased a home in Alexandria Virginia while LT Martin was assigned to duty at the Pentagon. In July 1959, he was ordered to the U.S. Embassy Paris, France where he served as Assistant Naval Attache' and the couple resided in St. Cloud, a Paris suburb. These were delightful years of entertaining and being entertained by various foreign attache's and traveling Europe with their Tibetan Terrier, Mr. Softee. In July 1962 Barney was ordered to the Pentagon, and shortly thereafter was chosen by CNO Admiral David L. MacDonald to be his Naval Aide. This resulted in 2 years of entertaining, meeting dignitaries and invitations to The White House. Two years later, Barney, now COMMANDER Martin, was assigned to the afloat Staff, 6thFleet as its Intelligence Officer, home ported in Ville Franche Sur Mer on the Cote d'Azur, France, and later at Gaeta, Italy where Jinny maintained residence traveling extensively throughout the Mediterranean, Mideast and North Africa, following the ship. In Gaeta they rented a restored watch tower overlooking the Mediterranean built in 1560. Returning again to Washington, D.C. in 1967, the Martins spent the remainder of CAPTAIN Barney's naval career in the area, residing in Tantallon, MD. In 1976, Captain Martin retired from the naval service. The couple moved to Rancho Santa Fe, California, in part to be near a Long Beach, CA family business for which Barney was CEO. The couple built their dream home, designed in part by Jinny, with panaramic views of the ocean and mountains. Barney died of Leukemia in 1996. Jinny resided in their home until the time of her death.
Over the years, while supporting many naval and civilian activities and philanthropies, Jinny has been active in countless organizations. She was affiliated with and held positions of leadership in the Tantallon, MD Garden Club, (president), San Diego Wednesday Club, San Diego Natural History Museum,(board member), American Airlines Kiwis', Rancho Santa Fe Republican Women's Club, National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Delta Gamma Alumni Association, Noah Homes Inc. (board member), Tantallon Garden Club, Navy Relief, North San Diego Genealogical Society, (president), Rancho Santa Fe Opera Guild, (co-chair of The Sahm Musicale) and others. But transcending this, Jinny was especially interested in the San Diego Zoological Society to which she devoted much of her life serving many years on the Wild Animal Park Advisory Board, co-hosting with Barney the chairmanship of the 1996 Gala Rendezvous in the Zoo (RITZ) and promoting all aspects of the Society in particular and wildlife in general. Her passion was for animals in general, and especially dogs, the latter having always been her loving companions,as well as horticulture, gardening and reading.
But of all her interests, her love and respect for family history and genealogical matters was the mainspring of activity during her life. To this end, she accumulated a large library devoted to these subjects, including many volumes of personal family research. Each Memorial Day Jinny returned to Ohio to decorate the graves of her ancestors and attend Veterans Memorial Day services. In this respect she was proud of the descent from the Miller Family who first settled on Hale Farm in Bath, Ohio, and of her Native American heritage. Her genealogical interest is made manifest by her commitment to fund the establishment of the Frazier-Wheeler-Martin Genealogical Library in Medina, Ohio.
There were no children to the marriage and Jinny was the only child born to Otis and Pauline Frazier Wheeler. Memorial donations may be sent to the Medina County Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 804, Medina, OH. 44258. Jinny will be interred with her husband of 42 years, dogs, Posey and Angel, and five generations of her mother’s family in Mound Hill Cemetery, Seville, OH. Service will be conducted on a date yet to be determined. Murray Funeral Home in Creston, OH is handling arrangements.
To leave an expression of sympathy, please send through the Message Board on the left.
Name: Shaun Lynch
You were a gift to us all Jinny. Thoughts and prayers go with you and to your family. May God keep you close.
Name: Maria Cooper
I was so sad to hear of Ginny 's passing. I first met her in December 1975 and kept in touch with her thru my mother in law and then thru my sons Andy and Danny. One one of my trips to California, I met her and went to the San Diego zoo together , what a most wonderful time we had!!
I shall miss her, and she will be remember lovingly by me and my sons.
Name: Joan Lowrey
I mourn the loss of my dear friend, Jinny. We never could remember just how we met, but we knew it was through our genealogy activities here in San Diego. She loved and honored her parents and her ancestors and spoke lovingly of Medina, Ohio. She was elegant and gracious, a lovely person. I will miss her.
Name: Sol Mester
Jinny was a treasure, and her life an adventure. Jinny and I never met, but we corresponded via email for several years and I got to know her, her life, and her many interests. Jinny was a patriot who loved her country, and she will be greatly missed.
Name: Christy Wilson
Ginny was a wonderful vivacious woman and a valued member of the Rancho Santa Fe community. And oh how she loved Barney ... may she rest in peace.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation
Name: Daniel Keating
Kathy, Matthew, Bryan and I shall really miss you. Jinny was fun to be around. There were always dogs, boats, the Navy, birds, Barney and I shall never forget how she dropped me off at Quantico. She said, Is the little boy scared?" Too good. Always honest.Name: Krista Star
Name: Carol Gibson
It is with deepest regret tht I and my sisters-in-law Dolores Mellert Spencer and Sheila Gibson, cannot attend Jinny Martin's memorial service on Tuesday. The three of us have a very early evening commitment, the timing of which unfortunately cannot be changed. Jinny and I wer childhood playmates as well as schoolmates. Dolores, too, knew Jinny growing up so we have a long history of friendship, one which we have enjoyed these past many years. Our sympathy and prayers are with any family members and friends in their great loss.
Carol Spencer Gibson
4910 Summer Wind Drive
Medina OH 44256
Name: Tony Franceschiello
I first met Jinny when I worked as an animal keeper/trainer at Joan Embery's Ranch. Her favorite animal was tigers, and we had one that we hand raised. Every year Jinny liked to make her Christmas card dressed to the nines, posing with a different exotic animal. This particular year Joan kindly offered to let her pose with the young tigress we had. I was the handler, and brought the tigress out and set her up so Jinny could pose seated next to her while Joan took the photos. Jinny showed no fear and sat relaxed, which helped the cat feel comfortable too.
After the shoot, I had the opportunity to get to know this amazing woman. She visited the animal compound at the ranch several times. We hit it off and stayed in contact. My father was career Navy as was her husband Barney, so we had that as well as the love of animals in common. At the time, I was living in a trailer a cross the street from Joans ranch. Jinny made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Since she travelled so extensively, she was looking for a responsible person to live at her home in Rancho Santa Fe in one of the guest houses so someone would be there to watch over the place and take care of her two dogs. I happily accepted and lived there for over a year until I got a full time animal keeper position at the Wild Animal Park and moved to an apartment closer to work.
I really enjoyed our time together, she enjoyed hearing the inside goings on at the Park, I helped out with things around her beautiful home as I could. She even had me take out and drive the huge white Cadillac Barney had given to her every so often so it would not sit for too long. Later, I found a buyer and helped her sell the car. She wanted it to go to someone who would really appreciate it!
Jinny was a wonderful, kind, caring and extremely intelligent lady, and I will forever honor her memory and miss her beautiful smile.