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Martha (Doonan) York

Written and submitted by the family of Martha (Doonan) York, 1923 – 2017

Martha York – photo courtesy of Jay York

With a backward glance, a beaming smile, and a beckoning arm, Martha Christine Doonan York skipped through a line of high-fiving friends and relatives, grabbed the hand of her waiting husband, Dave, and flew into the welcoming embrace of her Savior and Lord, Jesus, the Christ/Messiah on July 1st just 20 days short of her 94th birthday. We’re confident that He greeted her with, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

A graveside service will be held at the North Fork Cemetery, 32823 Road 228, on Saturday, July 15 at 10 a.m. An 11 a.m. memorial service commemorating Martha will follow in Kennedy Hall at the North Fork School.

For those who may be considering flowers, the ever-pragmatic Martha was adamant that money should not be “wasted” on flowers, so instead the family suggests sending donations with any checks made out to “North Fork Faculty Scholarship Fund” and stipulating “York Family Scholarship” in the memo section to North Fork School, 33087 Road 228, North Fork, CA 93643.

Martha was valiantly and unrelentingly battling at least three life-threatening conditions, in addition to several other “less serious” maladies, all of which made her life especially miserable over the past three months. A stroke on Memorial Day was Satan’s final attack to bring this Saint down. She bore all of this suffering with grace and grit, never complaining nor questioning God’s goodness, His plan, nor His love for her. In fact she ended her nightly prayers with, “Thank You for all things” as St. Paul, who also knew about suffering, exhorted us to do (1 Thes. 5:18). In the end – really the beginning – Satan lost; Christ won. “…We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” – Rom. 8:28

Born on the family farm in Illinois, Martha learned the importance of family and the values of hard work, excellence, and overcoming obstacles early. She commuted to the proverbial rural one-room-schoolhouse with her brothers on their faithful pony for all eight years of grammar school before graduating to an actual school bus for high school in the nearest town.

Early on, Martha discovered her love for children and decided she wanted to be a teacher like her grandma, so, encouraged by her parents — especially her father — she ventured off to Coe College in neighboring Iowa – daring do for a bashful farm girl.

After a three-date storybook World War II romance at Coe, Martha interrupted her college education to take a train to California (where she didn’t know a soul) and marry Army Air Corps cadet David York in Santa Monica in 1944. She then followed him around the Southwest as he completed his flight training.

In 1949 the couple joined a second wave of pioneers to settle in North Fork, Calif., which they called home for the rest of their lives. The pair literally crawled on their hands and knees through the brush to choose their home site atop a hill on the family property. Over the years they cleared the land and built and then expanded the house that sits there today, Martha unphased by cutting and burning brush, laying brick walls and whatever else it took.

Family was everything to Martha, but somehow in the midst of all this and raising three children Martha made time to graduate from Fresno State College and earn her California teaching credential. She then spent 25 years investing in the lives of kindergartners at North Fork Elementary School — one of them, her son Rodney, who also taught kindergarten there.

The York Family – photo courtesy of Jay York

Martha was preceded in death by her husband of 71 years, Dave, and the Yorks’ daughter, Patsey Kay O’Brien, and is survived by their sons, Jay and Rodney (and Alice Edwards) York, their grandchildren, Sarah (and Jack) Crabtree, Alanna (and Tyler) Kamp, Shanda (and Adam) Crawford, Erinn, Kevin, and Stephen York along with ten great-grandchildren: Wyatt and Aubrey Crabtree; Gracie, Kelsie, Travis and Cash Kamp; Kerrington, Lincoln, and Colter Crawford; and Julia Welsh. She is also survived by her brother, Jim (and Luella Hessman) Doonan of Aledo, IL; a sister-in-law, Margaret (Freeburg) Doonan of Rock Island, IL; and many nephews and nieces scattered from the Midwest westward.

You may have known her as Martha: professional, dedicated, thoughtful, caring, peaceful, patient, kind, gentle, self-controlled, generous, inspiring, encouraging, and/or determined. (It’s impressive to read God’s lists of gifts He gives to help others and see just how many of them she exhibited. See Rom. 12:6-8, 1 Cor. 12:4-11, 28, and Gal. 5:22-23.)

Martha York with sons Jay and Rodney – photo courtesy of the York family

We knew her to be all of those things, but also as Marty, Mommy, then Mom, Grandma and finally GG. We also knew her as …  Consistent, demonstrating integrity; Daring, even Fearless… except for bats (yes, we’re talking about the same Martha); Faithful, Loyal; Gracious; Grateful; Indomitable and Tenacious; Loving;Pioneering and Progressive; Present; a Prayer Warrior; Selfless; Steady and Unswerving; Trustworthy; Uncomplaining and Tough as Nails through many trials.

She’s the embodiment of the noble Godly woman defined in Prov. 31:10-31 and her sons do indeed “rise up and call her blessed.”

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