November 19, 1927 – March 22, 2019
Taya came from simple beginnings, born on November 19, 1927 to Maria and Alexander in Baku, Azerbaijan. She was born into a very educated family; her father was a high school principal and her mother a medical doctor. As a child, Taya enjoyed reading and attending musical theatre. She had a wonderful childhood but also grew up in challenging times. When Taya was 13 years old, she and her grandmother were on summer vacation and during that time World War 2 began. Therefore, they needed to immediately head home. For many days they were stuck at the train station trying to catch a train back to Baku. Eventually, Taya’s grandmother made the decision to push her onto the train and saved their lives, as they were able to escape back home. She was a brilliant student, having graduated high school at 16 years old earning only high marks. Taya worked her way through medical school and graduated as an MD in five years. She had a long, successful career as an infectious disease doctor. Taya loved her job – spending her days looking through a microscope studying bacteria to diagnose and treat contagious diseases. In 1945, Taya met Yuri at medical school. Yuri, a senior med student, fell quickly in love with the sophomore student. They met while both participating as actors in the school theatre. Yuri saw Taya acting on stage and instantly fell in love. He couldn’t get her out of his head and quickly asked her for his hand. After four years together, Yuri and Taya married in Baku. Both worked as doctors, as Yuri became a Radiologist. In their spare time, they loved going to the theatre, playing crosswords against each other, dancing, and getting together with friends. Taya and Yuri had two daughters they loved dearly. Together as a family they took many vacations to different European countries and enjoyed visiting museums across the cities. As the years went on, her children grew, and she took great pleasure in celebrating the joys of their lives. Irina followed her mother’s academic success and graduated with high honors. She studied Philology in Baku University. When she met her husband, Sam, he became like a son to Taya and they all lived together in Baku. They have three daughters: Yana, Emily and Natalie. Taya’s youngest daughter, Tanya, also lived in Baku with her husband and two sons: Anar and Emil. Life wasn’t without difficulty, and in 1988, Yuri tragically passed away. A year later, a new chapter of Taya’s life began as the family immigrated to Houston, Texas. Taya settled in Houston very nicely, setting up residence in Goldberg Tower where she had many friends. On the weekdays, they would play games, go shopping, and enjoy company at each other’s apartments. Taya had a great sense of humor, she was extremely witty and almost every conversation ended with a laugh. She was also very traditional, often telling her kids and grandkids to dress up for guests, or add extra lipstick to look presentable. But most importantly, her favorite pastime was spending time with her family. She loved being at her granddaughter’s lake house and playing with her great grandkids. She would try to teach them Russian and often was found at the kid’s table helping them color. The kids called her “GiGi”, short for great grandmother. Taya was dearly loved by all those that knew her and enjoyed a life full of joy and laughter. She is survived by her daughter, son-in-law, granddaughters, five grandchildren, and her grandson-in-laws. I’d like to take this time to share a few words about those that meant the most to her. Firstly, her daughter, Irina. Irina was the apple of her mother’s eye. She called her everyday to check-in and always caught up on the latest soap opera drama. They would laugh endlessly and end every conversation with a virtual kiss and a “I love you.” Irina inherited the best qualities of Taya: strength, compassion, courage, and kindness. Her mother was immensely proud of Ira and even in her last days, shared her love by squeezing her hand and saying her sweet name with a big smile. Her son-in-law, Sam. Sam and Taya shared many conversations over a variety of topics as he shuttled her across the city. Taya cooked meals for Sam when Irina was out of town and helped take care of the family cat. She loved him dearly and was always asking of his whereabouts whenever he was away. Taya was a bonus mom to Sam, after the passing of his mother, and their relationship was very strong. She was always happy when Sam was nearby. Her granddaughters, Emily, Natalie, and Yana were her biggest pride and joy.”Babyulah” as they called her, helped raise Emily and Natalie watching them when they were young. After school, grandma would meet them at the bus stop to walk them home and feed them a snack that was the size of a Thanksgiving feast. She was always involved in their lives, showing up to gymnastics competitions and school activities. Her, granddaughter Yana, was special to Taya’s heart. When she moved to Houston, Taya was elated to have her nearby. She often confided in medical advice and the latest gossip with Yana. More than anything, she adored her grandkids. Taya didn’t have a big family so having five grandkids was her biggest excitement. Her heart tripled in size when she was surrounded by Ethan, Mia, Olivia, Ella, and Nora. GiGi was everyone’s favorite. Lastly, her sons-in-laws, Arthur, Stan, and Esa were choices that made her especially happy. She was extremely fond of them and never missed a chance to tell them how much she loved them. -- Taya kept with Jewish tradition, celebrating the high holidays with friends and family. Having faith meant believing in something bigger than herself and she did so with fervor. She enjoyed sharing in the customs and being surrounded by all those she cared for and loved. A focus of love and affection radiates out to all those who were privileged to know her. We all have many happy memories of Taya and these we must hold dear in our hearts and cherish them, as she has always cherished her family and friends. May God bless and keep our beautiful Taya and may you all leave today with as much love in your hearts as she has given her family.
- Graveside Service Sunday, March 24, 2019