September 02, 2020

Coleen Kirsty Zahnke 54, Big Stone Gap, departed this life on Sunday, August 30, 2020 after an extended battle with cancer. 

Kirsty had an energy for life that radiated to those around her. She had a love for art, the outdoors, hiking, and animals. She graduated from Powell Valley High School. She then attended the University of Virginia Tech where she earned a bachelors degree in the study of Biology , along with a bachelors in Animal Science. Her life took her on many wonderful adventures around the globe, she traveled extensively —Indonesia, Africa, Europe, Central and South America where she enjoyed backpacking and seeing nature. She enjoyed being an organic farmer in the Olinger Community. Her love and energy was contagious, and she will be deeply missed by all those that knew her. 

She was preceded in death by her father, Dr. Wolfgang Zahnke, both her Maternal and Paternal grandparents. 

She is survived by her husband Dr. Clay Skarda, her two children; Liarucha and Gareth Zahnke-Basuki, her mother Fiona Zahnke, her sister Serena Zahnke, her brother, Dr. Kim Zahnke, three nieces; Yraine Miller-Zahnke, Aubrey Zahnke and Maura Zahnke, other close relatives and friends. 

The family will receive friends for a committal service on Saturday, Sept. 5 at Riverview Cemetery in East Stone Gap, VA at 11 a.m. Those wishing to attend and celebrate Kirsty’s life are asked to join the family on that day. 

The family would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Elizabeth Cooperstein and husband Mark, along with great friends Peggy Mathews, Steve Brooks and Maxine Kenny and many others who have supported Kirsty in her journey. 

You may go online to view the obituary, sign the guest registry, or leave the family a condolence at 

Holding Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.