On March 12, 2021 Alexander (Alex) Nicholas Lushnycky passed away peacefully, by the grace of God, surrounded by his family in their home in Moylan, Pennsylvania.
Son of Hryhoriy Luznyckyj and Nina Konoschynska Luznyckyj, the deceased was born during the Second World War in Lviv, Ukraine on September 28, 1940. Descended from a several-century old priestly family of the Byzantine rite Catholic Church, the family was forced to flee their homeland and ultimately emigrated to the United States on August 6, 1949. The immigrant experience forged his Weltanschauung, like so many of his generation, and while Alexander may have left Ukraine, Ukraine never left him. He completed studies at Roman Catholic High School (1958), La Salle College 1961 (B.A.), the University of Pennsylvania 1964 (M.A.), and the Ukrainian Free University in Munich, 1968 (PhD). Seamlessly adapting to his new homeland, Alexander dedicated his life to honoring and documenting the millions of lives in the diaspora that had been altered by cataclysmic political changes in his homeland. Coming from a long line of pedagogues, Alexander’s calling in teaching started in 1959. Steadfast defender of veracity, like his favorite Greek philosopher Diogenes, Alexander spent his life searching for truth and honesty. A history teacher for 43 years, he intensely believed in the potential of youth to change the course of society— and unashamedly encouraged them to do so while teaching at numerous Philadelphia Archdiocesan High Schools including: Bishop Neuman H.S.; Bishop Kendrick H.S.; St. James H.S., where he was also head of the Social Studies department; Hallahan H.S, where he was the teacher’s union delegate; and Cardinal O'Hara H.S. from where he retired in 2005. Boundless time was devoted every Saturday educating the Ukrainian diaspora youth from 1959 to 2003, first as a teacher and later as the Principal of two Ukrainian Schools in the Philadelphia area, and subsequently Inspector of Ukrainian schools in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. Member of the Executive Board of the Educational Council of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America from 1969-2010, Alexander served as its Vice-President from 2001-2010.
As a disciplined and devoted historian, he pursued the truth throughout his life, no matter how inconvenient for contemporary thinking. His lifelong devotion to his students echoed Georges Santayana’s belief that “he who does not know history is damned to repeat it.” History and its follies should serve as a roadmap to the future for as the times and political ideas change, people and their pursuit of power do not.
A pillar of the Ukrainian community in the USA, Alexander was an active member of several scholarly and humanitarian organizations: Shevchenko Scientific Society of American, President of the Philadelphia branch from 2009-2021; Saint Sophia Ukrainian Catholic Religious Society 2004-2017; and the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee 2007-2017. He also served as a member of the Ukrainian Advisory Board at Manor College.
His essays and publications included 23 books: History of Ukraine (for beginners), 1970; Ukrainians in Pennsylvania, 1976; Ukrainian American Commemorative Book, 1976; Ukrainians in Delaware, 1978; Ukrainians in Perth Amboy, 1983; Almanac of the Providence Association of Ukrainian Catholics: A Fraternal Society, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985; History of Tryzub: Ukrainian Sports Association, 1988; Millennium of Christianity in Ukrainian, 1988; Fiftieth Anniversary of the Parish of St. Nicholas, 1993; Fiftieth Anniversary of the Schools of Ukrainian Studies and Tenth Anniversary of the Ukrainian Heritage School, Philadelphia, 2000; Unison of Hearts: 60th Anniversary of United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, Inc., 2004; and two volumes of the Images in America series: Ukrainians of Greater Philadelphia, 2007; Ukrainians in Delaware Valley, 2009. The deceased also authored and edited the following Jubilee books: Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church, Chester, PA 1976; St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, Wilmington, DE, 1978; Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, Perth Amboy, NJ, 1983; Ukrainian Catholic Educational Institutions in the United States in The Ukrainian Heritage in America, New York, 1991. In addition, Alexander co-authored these publications: On the 70th Anniversary of Dedication of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, , Philadelphia, 1980; A Guide to Ukrainian American Newspapers in Microfilm, Minneapolis, MN, 1998; A Research Guide to Ukrainian and Carpatho-Rusyn American Newspapers, Periodicals, and Calendar-Almanacs on Microfilm 1886 –1976, Minneapolis, MN, 2005. Lastly, for 27 years he served as Regional Director, contributor and co-editor of volumes 2, 3, 4 of the Encyclopedia of Ukrainians in Diaspora, the final volume of which symbolically got published on the exact day of his passing.
At those times when he was not writing, Alexander and his wife, of 55 years, Mary zigzagged across North America (and the world) in their shared wanderlust; predictably, research accompanied them along the way. His loyalty was only exceeded by his generosity and thoughtfulness. Material goods held little appeal to Alex, and his fierce loyalty also extended to his cars which he always regretted having to part with- like a steed of yore. “It was not the age,” he said, “it was the miles,” and his personal record was 327,500 miles! on his trusted silver Honda Accord before a sudden and regretful separation. His other favorite past time was listening to his vast music collection, both 45s and 33s. He fell in love with music from the first time he heard Carl Perkins sing Blue Suede Shoes, and enjoyed an eclectic range of music, from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, to traditional Ukrainian diaspora music like Ruschnychok, Burya and other international music. Every day in retirement began with Holy Liturgy followed by an extended breakfast with his wife Mary in their dining room with music blanketing them (except during Lent!) from the turntable in the next room.
He so loved his family, loved being kind to others and never missed an opportunity for a surprise visit! Countless hours were spent with family and friends around the table, eating good food, enjoying a stout drink, and partaking in stimulating conversation, with no topic too controversial. Often voices were raised, and laughter was uncontrollable within the same minutes of discussion. But if everyone happened to be in agreement, suddenly a twinkle appeared in his eye and he transformed into a tenacious debater masquerading as the devil’s advocate.
His source of strength and moral center was his family, his wife Mary, children, Ulita (David) Nonemaker and Andrej (Anne) Cordey Lushnycky, his sister Christine (Bohdan) Kulchyckyj, his cousin Leonid (Irene) Rudnytzky, his cousin in Ukraine Oleh Kupchynskyj and his brother-in-law Julius Besoushko. He is survived by them and his grandchildren Christian, Léa, Nico and Théo, nephews and nieces, Dmytro, Danyo, Katya, Mark, Lara, Yaro, Nick, and the innumerable souls whom he touched in his long, fulfilling life.
Above all, Alexander was a man of faith and family, a loyal, devoted friend, teacher and mentor to many. Watches were not for him as he measured time in the eternal, not the contemporary. He forged his own path and never relented from doing things his own way. From his forced exodus from his beloved Ukraine, he swiftly learned that material objects had no value, they were here today, gone tomorrow. Only good people, good music and a shot of the “good stuff” mattered at the end of the day. Every drink (of course, except during Lent!) together with his loved ones was akin to a knightly reaffirmation of his fierce commitment to his faith, family, friends and freedom. Upon parting with family, he would serenely bless everyone with three signs of the cross and say that everything would be fine, as we are in God’s hands. While he will be greatly missed, he also will be dearly remembered with infinite fond memories that live on in each and every person he was close to. Now Alexander is in God’s hands and we can find solace and serenity in that truth. A celebration of Alexander Lushnycky’s life will be forthcoming this summer.
Memoria Aeterna et Post Tenebras Lux
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