By Suzanne Diviney
On June 9, 2020, Ms. Virginia Foster Martin —aka “Stella out East” or “Aunt Ginnie” —passed from her earthly paradise in Greenport USA to her eternal one. She was born on October 17, 1923 and lived to the wonderful age of 96-and-a-half.
Although she spent the last 85 or so years of her life here in New York, her heart belonged to San Francisco where she was born. She was the only child of Marie and Bert Foster who treated her like the princess she was from the day they welcomed her to the world. One of her earliest memories was of her nanny mashing avocados for her baby food. Ginnie traveled extensively throughout the United States in her youth from the mountains of Maine to the clubs in New Orleans to the parks and campgrounds in California.
She settled down somewhat to attend Syracuse University where she met her true love and future husband, Richard Martin, who had enlisted in the Army. They had a joyful courtship and married in February 1942. Sadly, just months later, Richard died in France fighting for our country in World War II. Ginnie mourned his loss until her dying day.
Her life did go on and she spent a great deal of it with her childhood friend, Doris Sonner whom she met at the age of 13. They ultimately worked together in the Baldwin school district as librarians and lacrosse and field hockey coaches. When Doris was 28, she had a heart attack which was a turning point in both their lives. Ginnie accompanied Doris to a friend’s home in Mattituck as she convalesced. It was on one of their many drives throughout the North Fork that they came upon the fishing shack in Greenport that would ultimately become their home. They named it “Gull Cottage.” Ginnie and Doris spent many, many happy years there fishing, clamming, boating, barbecuing and partying their heads off with family and friends.
Doris passed away peacefully in the sun room of Gull Cottage in 2009. Ginnie carried on, spending time with her “Breakfast Club” Sunday mornings at the Hellenic Restaurant, volunteering at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and involving herself in events associated with the Maritime Museum in Greenport (where she was an early Commodore) and the North Fork Women for Women Fund (“NFWFWF”). It was at a NFWFWF event – at the tender age of 90 – that Ginnie met her next life partner, Kathy Collins. Kathy is an author of fiction, non-fiction and poetry who brought boundless love and great joy to Ginnie’s later years. Ginnie is also survived by her great niece and nephew, Sue and Dan Diviney, their children, Meg, John, Michael and Ryan, their grandchild, Danny, and many friends and their families who grew up enjoying Ginnie’s company, beautiful beach and nearby jetty.
If you ever had the good fortune to spend time with Ginnie, you know that there was Virginia’s way or some other misguided direction you might decide to take. Nevertheless, to know her was to love her and if you were lucky enough to have known her, you are better for it. Her favorite saying: “I love fun – it’s one of the best things I do!” May Ginnie rest in peace — the other Saints in Heaven will forever be on their toes!
Donations in Ginny Martin’s name should be made to North Fork Women.