Patricia M Martin

Zelda loved to dance.

She and her devoted husband, Tom Scullin, would break the ice and bust a move on the grass fronting the stage at Long’s Park concerts on Sunday nights. She danced in the streets to the strains of her daughter, Robin Chambers, on violin. She did the Polish Hop with her son, Gregor Miziumski, at his wedding to Violet Levy on the West Coast. She met her first husband, Conrad Miziumski, at the Polka Palace in Los Angeles. Zelda danced in bliss to the live orchestras playing tangos into the enchanted air of San Marco Square in Venice, and down the aisles of Valentino’s, to the robust accordions on Thursday nights, around the block from her home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Born in Reno, Nevada, on September 12th, 1941, Zelda’s first abode was a boxcar in the California desert. Her father was Kenneth Martin, a Norwegian farm boy who worked on the railroad, and mother, Evie (Willis) Martin, a dust bowl migrant who claimed common ancestry with Queen Elizabeth.

The couple named their first-born Patricia Marie Martin. She was known as Pat, or Patsy, to which she cringed, and adopted her middle name, Marie, on her 18th birthday. Eventually, she realized even that was not reflective of her wild spirit, so chose to be called Zelda, AKA Madam Z, for when she embodied her gypsy fortune-teller persona. It was important to Zelda to remain true to her inner fire.

Zelda was quickly joined by two sisters, Judith (Renfrow), and Marilyn (McNeely), before her parents divorced, and the girls separately made their way through the traumas of foster care. When reunited with their mother, the three sisters were shuffled, in nomadic style, through a rapid-fire succession of homes and schools, till Zelda landed for a couple years with her father and his new, dear wife, Leone (Carlson) Martin, and then, on to an early marriage.

But Zelda’s plucky spirit drove her to fulfill her true dreams. As her children were leaving home, she, herself, graduated from Millersville University with straight A’s, and a degree in Economics.

After the end of her first marriage, Zelda moved into her own home in Hamilton Park, and landed an accounting job at Educators Mutual. She also became editor of their newsletter, Live Wire, where she developed a devoted following to her column, “From Z to U.”  She kept a blog for her stories, and was published many times in Six Sentences. She was also a memorable member of a number of writer’s groups.

Zelda met her match, her loving artist/ PCA&D professor husband, Tom, at Hiking Club in 1990, and many in the community would recognize the iconic couple on their continued lengthy daily strolls, Tom in his straw hat, and Zelda donning a colorful parasol. They traversed not only the streets and hiking paths of Lancaster, but also many locations on the West Coast, the Southwest, and through Europe.

The same year she met Tom, Zelda learned  she was to become a grandmother, first to Marisha Chambers, and then twin grandsons, Tosh and Weston Chambers, children of Robin and Steve Chambers. The kids spent frolicsome Saturdays with their grandma and Tom, and Zelda’s generous spirit, which always shone, was a great support to them in affording their college educations, as well as enriching their lives with multiple trips for the entire family to Italy and Hawaii.

Zelda was known to be authentic, passionate, irreverent, and unfiltered, whimsical, and outright hilarious. She bore within her an unusual mix of caution and daring, and always had a kind word for strangers. She was deeply compassionate, with a special place in her heart for the underdogs of the world.

Dementia eventually crept through Zelda’s store of memories, slowly making off with most of them. But it was no match for the profound love which remained, even as she slipped away gently on Sunday morning, July 18th, 2021.

She didn’t believe in heaven or hell, but one may envision the graceful Madam Z dancing in the ether, sending a glow into the hearts of so many.

A Celebration of Life will be held in Zelda Martin’s honor on the new moon, 8/8/2021, at 3:30pm at Mulberry Art Studios, 19-20 N. Mulberry Street, Lancaster, PA, 17603. Thoughtful masking requested.

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  • I remember Madam Z’s readings at Hiking Club events very well. I often saw Tom and Zelda walking around Hamilton Park. I am so sorry for her family’s and friends’ loss. It sounds like Zelda left so many fond memories and I hope these will sustain her husband Tom and her family.

  • I am so very sorry to hear of Zelda’s passing. She made me smile. She was smart, informed, but always willing to listen to opposing views. She was definitely a free spirit and was cared for lovingly by her husband until the end. May she rest in the peace she always looked to find.

  • Although I did not know Zelda, her story seems to be one of a life lived to the fullest. She sounds like the kind of person I would have been drawn to. I wish you all comfort and peace through this difficult time. I’m sure that knowing her was a joy. May her memory live on long in your hearts.

  • I was sad to hear of Zelda’s passing. She was a vibrant spirit in this world, a writer with many quirky stories to tell, a woman of many talents. I enjoyed lunch and conversations with her when we worked downtown. She was charming and her smile lit up the room. My deepest sympathies to Tom, to her children and grandchildren. She will be remembered with love.

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