Beverly Ann (Fee) Zirakian, 82, died peacefully at home, surrounded by her family in the early hours of April 20th, 2021, in Ocala, Florida. Beverly was born June 27, 1938, in Shrewsbury, Vermont, the youngest of three children to William Henry and Myrtle (Weir) Fee.
Born into an Irish-American family, Beverly and her two older siblings learned what hard work was, as they took part in chores of their family’s dairy farm. Beverly’s green eyes always glimmered with joy when she did mischievous things. She was exceptionally close to her brother and adored her father. Her first years of education were spent in a one-room school, where she successfully finished all 8 grades in 7 years. From a young age, Beverly loved academics and the challenge of learning new things. She then graduated from Rutland Senior High School where she excelled in her AP courses and was a proud member of her local National Honor Society. Beverly planned on becoming a Lawyer, but in the end, decided to become a teacher. Beverly first attended Boston University, but later transferred her credits to Castleton College and received her BS degree in Junior High Education in 1960.
After graduation, Beverly married Vincent Zirakian of whom she met at Boston University. Once married, she and Vincent brought home four, healthy baby girls and two handsome baby boys over the next nine years. As a mother, Beverly chose to stay home and care for her growing family. In 1973, Beverly went back into the workforce, working in the reading department of a local Pennsylvania public school system. The next year, in 1974, she began her employment with the Pennsylvania Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (SDA) in the Education Department. In this position, she worked as a grade-school teacher and as a principal throughout her employment, she worked at this placement for ten years. After her decade of work in Pennsylvania, Beverly moved to Florida where she again worked in the SDA Education Department. Her first placement was at Walker Memorial Junior Academy, in Avon Park, Florida, serving for four years (1984-1988) as a teacher. After that placement, she worked two years as a teacher (1988-1990) in Deland, Florida at the Deland SDA School. Following that placement, she moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she taught and principled at the Sawgrass Adventist School for seven years (1990-1997). During her years at the Sawgrass school, Beverly was awarded the Zapara Award for Teaching Excellence (1996). From Fort Lauderdale, Beverly moved to Miami, where she taught at Greater Miami Academy; in Miami, she worked for five years (1997-2002) and established and coordinated the first honors program at the Academy. At her last placement, Beverly moved to Clearwater Florida where she worked for an additional four years (2002-2006). It was during these four years that she was nominated and her biography was accepted in the “Whose Who in American Teachers.” Beverly finished her teaching career in 2006 celebrating thirty-three years in the Adventist Education System and an additional three years in the public school system, totaling her years in education to thirty-six. In 2010, Beverly took her permanent retirement to Ocala, Florida where she stayed until her death.
Beverly loved teaching and especially enjoyed teaching children how to read. She often would reminisce about her years as a teacher and principal by simply saying, “There is nothing more exciting than to see a child find the keys that unlock learning for himself or herself.” She wasn’t able to keep in close contact with all her students, but with those with whom she was able to stay connected with, she was able to follow them through college, graduate school, and in some cases doctoral school. Two of her previous students taught three of her grandchildren later in their education! She was very proud of her students and always had high expectations for them and their future.
Although Beverly’s teaching career was put in retirement, she never truly quit teaching. As a grandma, she happily taught, tutored, graded, proofread, car-pooled, and bought her seven grandchildren many educational activities. She continued her high standards for her grandchildren as well; out of seven grandchildren, two have graduated college and have secured careers in their field, three are currently in college, and the youngest is in middle school.
Throughout her life, she lived with or near at least one of her children. And as her life began to slow down–and all the grandchildren who lived near were going off to higher education, her youngest daughter came to live with her. Beverly enjoyed her family and loved all her close friends.
Beverly is preceded in death by her parents, William Henry and Myrtle Weir Fee; her brother, William Fee; her two sisters-in-law, Nancy Zirakian DiBoyan, Alice Bryce Fee; her four brothers-in-law, Francis Minogue, Gerard Zirakian, Simone DiBoyan, Carl Kelley; her two nephews, William Fee, Larry Minogue; and her husband, Vincent P. Zirakian.
Beverly is survived by her sister, Edith Kelley; sister-in-law, Elizabeth Assarian Zirakian; four daughters, Nora (Stephen) Watts, Deborah Zirakian, Pamela (Ron) Day, Sarah Zirakian; two sons, Matthew Zirakian-Salovitz, Paul Zirakian; four granddaughters, Ariel (Zackary) Sanderford, Erin Watts, Diana Tanksley, Jewel Day; three grandsons, Daniel Tanksley, Adam Zirakian, Luke Zirakian; four nephews, William Minogue, Patrick Minogue, Greg Zirakian, David (Lori) DiBoyan; and three nieces, Barbara Fee (Richard) Moon, Carol Zirakian (Ed) McDermott, Michelle DiBoyan (Carl) Zitta.
A memorial will be held on Saturday, June 5th, 2021, at four in the afternoon at the Clearwater SDA Church located at, 1445 Lakeview Rd, Clearwater, FL 33756. Please join the family as we celebrate Beverly’s life and legacy.
In lieu of flowers, consider furthering and continuing Beverly’s passion and legacy for educating children by donating to International Children’s Care at ForHisKids.org/Beverly. Contact (423)-647-1826 for any questions or further information.