Alina Gadzhibeyli, age 84, passed away peacefully February 21, 2021, in her home in Boise, Idaho. She was born August 20, 1936; her birthplace and biological parents are unknown because she was an orphan. Alina was adopted as a six-month-old baby by Leonid and Yelena Milovidov.
The new family moved to Baku in 1937, where Alina lived until 1992. Leonid died in St. Petersburg in 1943, when Alina was only 7 years old. Her mother, Yelena, married a second husband, Rufat Gadzhibeyli. Unfortunately, Rufat was killed in World War II when he was freeing prisoners from Auschwitz on January 29, 1945.
Growing up, Alina loved music and animals. Every chance she had, she would rescue cats and dogs living in the streets. She also started taking piano lessons at 7 years old, but she loved singing as well. When she was 10 years old, she sang Italian songs while her friend played the piano. Alina participated in the Baku philharmonic and graduated from the Baku music school #2.
During her younger years, she was also involved in very non-traditional activities for a child. Around age 8, she chopped firewood outside to bring it home for the cold winters in the USSR. For recreational purposes, she frequently bullied the older neighborhood boys, and they would come crying to Alina’s mom asking her to save them from Alina.
By 13 years old, she already developed the qualities of a well-rounded leader. She was a group lead of over 30 kids at a summer camp. Alina really enjoyed providing guidance to people that needed support. For Alina, being a leader was very fulfilling. Her leadership qualities translated later in life into a role as the Director of the Baku Zoo in Azerbaijan.
Before she began her career, Alina attended Azerbaijan University. In her early 20s, she enjoyed going to the university’s basketball games and socializing with friends. Alina was also an exceptional athlete who played volleyball for her university. In 1961, at age 25, Alina graduated from Azerbaijan University with a degree in chemistry and biology while specializing in zoology.
One year after Alina’s college graduation, she married Ivan Sarumov. A year after that, Alina gave birth to her only child, Yelena.
Over the next 30 years, Alina’s career in zoology flourished. She coordinated the construction and design of the new Baku Zoo, lead research projects to help endangered species, and visited various countries on behalf of Baku to share her experiences with animals. Under Alina’s leadership, the new Baku Zoo opened in 1985 and became one of the most popular attractions in the city.
In 1992, Alina, Yelena (Alina’s daughter) and Yelena’s son (Jake) fled the city of Baku as refugees due to the Nagorno-Karabakh war. The family moved to Boise, Idaho, where Alina spent the rest of her life.
Alina is beloved by her family, friends, and every animal she’s met. She has enriched lives. She cared more about others than herself – she was truly an altruist.
Alina is survived by her daughter Yelena, son-in-law Ernie, grandson Jake, granddaughter-in-law Kristina, and great-grandson Isaiah.
Click here to view a webcast of the service on 2/25/2021 at 12:55 PM, Mountain Standard Time.
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