Even though it was a funeral, there was plenty of laughter as people shared their memories of Zinna LaShay Livingston Blake and her daughter, Haley J’nae. Both perished in a car accident on Sept. 10.The distance and a long, winding road nearly out of Ruston did not stop mourners from attending.
The Lincoln Hall of the North Louisiana Expo Center was crowded. The walls were lined up with friends and classmates who all shared one common entity: they were touched by the life of Zinnia.
“To lose a coworker and a dear beloved friend, it’s most difficult,” said Dr. LaWanna Gunn-Williams.
“She was a mentor, a friend, and sometimes, my mother,” Gunn-Williams said.
Words of comfort were offered by Rev. Clifton Lewis, pastor of Ruston’s Mt. Harmony Baptist Church. He said, “What if this day had nothing to do with Shay and her daughter but everything to do with you and me?”
Lewis asked what if God whispered in Shay’s ear, and said, “I’m going to allow you to teach one more lesson. It will be the greatest lesson, but you have to die and come on home to teach it.”
“What if they died so mothers can whisper I love you in their daughters’ ears?” he said.
Minister Kelli Stevenson of South Parkway Church shared memories about Haley.
“Haley loved to praise the Lord,” she said. “She had an awesome personality.”
Stevenson also talked about Haley’s love for the Lord and her favorite memories of her. Stevenson is also sure about one thing as well.
“I know she’s having the time of her life in Heaven,” Stevenson said. “She loved to have a good time. She brought us a lot of joy.”
As the funeral ended, many people left with memories of Blake still running through their minds.
“Her personality is great. She spoke her mind and didn’t care if what she said was mean or nice,” said Mia Daiggs, a sophomore nursing major. “She treated everyone the same.”
Vanessa Brewster, a classmate of Zinnia’s from Ruston Elementary to Ruston High,
“Shay just loved people,” she said. “She had a kind heart and would help anybody. She was always willing to sacrifice for her friends.”
Zinnia returned to GSU in 1994, accepting a position as Instructor of Psychology. She later advanced to Assistant Professor. Zinnia graduated from GSU in 1988, earning her Bachelor of Arts Degree in General Psychology.