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Barbara Skirven Sizemore

Martha was a loving member of our Family and devoted to my brother and their Church Life. Kind and helpful to my Mother in her declining years and ever present in her devotion to her music as choir director of Their Church. Martha you as deeply loved by all who knew her. I loved her and shall miss her smile and quiet way.

Dianne Febles

I have nothing but the fondest memories of Martha. She was so helpful to me and my students and was an outstanding educator. Always kind, complimentary, and a truly positive mentor to special education teachers throughout the FDLRS’ network. The world has lost a wonderful lady. May she Rest In Peace.

Martha Kinsey Skirven


Martha Kinsey Skirven, 84, died on Monday, May 29th at the Warner Center for Caring in her beloved Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Born in Augusta, Georgia, Martha was raised in Mayfield, a small, rural crossroads farming community in Hancock County. She was the only child of Virginia (neé Kendrick) and Ralston Kinsey, who served as Mayfield’s postmaster until his untimely death from Parkinson’s in 1957.

After graduating from Sparta High School, Martha attended Wesleyan College in Macon where in 1961 she earned a Baccalaureate of Music, with a focus on church music and the organ. Her first job was as the organist and choirmaster at the First United Methodist Church in Waycross, and it was there she met her future husband, James F. Skirven, Jr.

She soon moved to Jacksonville and began teaching music in the Duval County school system. Her love of teaching led her to earn a Master of Arts in music education from Florida State University in 1965.

That summer she and Jim were married at Grace Chapel Parish (now San Jose Episcopal) in Jacksonville. In the autumn they moved to Suwanee, Tennessee where Jim was awarded a Masters of Divinity Degree from the University of the South in 1968.

In Suwanee Martha taught music in primary and secondary schools and she traveled back to Mayfield in summer to teach Head Start classes in a local primary school. After Jim’s graduation, they returned to the Jacksonville area where Jim was ordained and served as a priest. But for a brief posting in Potomac, Maryland in 1973, Martha and Jim remained in Jacksonville for the rest of her professional life.

Martha returned to the classroom in the Duval County school system teaching music as well as teaching students with disabilities. She eventually left the classroom to become a resource for other teachers of the disabled through the Assistive Technology Educational Network, the Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System, and the Nassau County Exceptional Student Education program. When she retired in 2002, Martha and Jim moved to Fernandina Beach.

Martha spoke often about how she felt so very blessed to work once again as an organist and choirmaster for many years after retirement at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. She and Jim were active members of this faith community until his death in 2015. Martha remained a devoted parishioner of the church she dearly loved for the rest of her life and participated fully in the life of the church as much as possible after moving to Savannah Grand of Amelia Island.

She was well known at Savannah Grand for her great affection for what she called Holy Hour -- playing bingo with her neighbors and friends -- as well as her love of good food, cold glasses of chardonnay with meals, and sherry at bedtime. Described in her college yearbook as “a devoted friend who knows the joy of loving and giving unselfishly,” many said that Martha was the only completely kind person they have ever known. And there are many that enjoyed Martha’s well-honed and irreverent sense of humor.

Martha is survived by her cousin Franklin Cox and his sons David and Ralston, her niece Miranda Lamb DeZeeuw and two great nephews, Sebastian and Nicholas DeZeeuw, and her sister-in-law, Barbara Skirven Sizemore. She is also survived by several godchildren, among them David M. Bush and Jonathan Scott. She was a devoted alumna of Wesleyan and will be sorely missed by her classmates and many friends.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 24th at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 801 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach with The Reverend Joe Woodfin officiating. At the end of the service Martha’s ashes will be interred in the courtyard, where Jim’s ashes are also interred. A reception will follow in Burns Hall, which is immediately adjacent.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts should be made to the Music Fund of St. Peter’s for support of the music program and the preservation and maintenance expenses of the historic Harrison Organ.


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