Olga (Olha) Zulak, nee Fedyk, died peacefully at home in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia on July 19, 2020, at the age of 92.
It was the end of a full life that had both delightful and dire times, which she negotiated with unshakable inner strength and an irrepressible love of life. She was a devoted mother and wife, a first rate homemaker, an accomplished gardener, a gracious hostess, a lifelong lover of opera, culture and learning. She had a keen mind and a compassionate spirit.
Olha was born in the village of Deryzhychi near Drohobych in western Ukraine. She was the first of the three children of Yuriy and Josephine (nee Nehrebetska) Fedyk, followed by her brothers Stefan and Roman. She spoke often of what an idyllic upbringing they had.
Young Olha was an excellent student who learned German and spoke it perfectly, according to her mother. She was also a track and field athlete, a member of the Pidhirya Sports Club, as was Volodymyr Zulak, her future husband.
After high school Olha went on to study international business in L’viv. In 1944 her family was forced to flee, as were so many Ukrainians, by Bolshevik incursions into their area in the onslaught of World War II. They left everything behind and took off together into the unknown in 1944, finding their way through war torn Europe and eventually reaching Germany.
After the war, Olha found Volodymyr Zulak in Nuremberg and helped arrange his move to Kaufbeuren, Germany, where they married in 1947. They lived in displaced persons camps, first in Karlsfeld, and later in Berchtesgaden, where their son Ihor was born in 1948. The young family then emigrated to the United States in 1950 and settled in Philadelphia, where son Roman was born in 1954.
Olha made a wonderful home for her family while also working as a research lab technician at Jefferson Hospital. Her energy in providing for her family was matched by her passion for educating her sons. She took great pride in their academic achievements and subsequent careers.
She was an active member of St. Nicholas Church and the groups Zolotiy Khrest and Soyuz Ukrainok. Olha and Volodymyr were founding members of the Ukrainian Homestead in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. They built a second home there and spent happy summers as a family when the boys were growing up. Olha’s garden grew the flowers, vegetables, and fruits that graced her house and table. She moved there after retirement for several years.
Olha lavished love on her grandchildren and her brothers’ children and grandchildren. She adored making holiday dinners for the extended family. Her food was always delicious and her baked creations, like tort and kolach, were works of culinary art.
Above all, Olha was strong and a survivor. The turmoil of her young adult life gave added impetus to her devotion to family, community and church in the new country she came to call home.
Olha was predeceased by her husband Volodymyr Zulak and her son Ihor Zulak (Kathryne, Susan). She is survived by her son Roman Zulak (Michaela), grandchildren Roman and Lecia Zulak, her brother Stefan Fedyk (Uliana) and family, her brother Roman Fedyk (Ivanna) and family, and extended family and friends in the United States and Ukraine.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to:
—St. Nicholas Church, 871 North 24th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
—Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center, 700 North Cedar Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046
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St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church
871 N. 24th Street, Philadelphia PA 19130
Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center
700 Cedar Road, Jenkintown PA 19046