Life Story: Mary Jarmoluk, 95; WW II Ukrainian Refugee, Former Township Resident

Mary Jarmoluk, age 95, of Russellville, Arkansas, died April 18 at her home at Stone Bridge.

She was born May 24, 1926, to Joseph and Catherine Kit Malecki, in the village of Zalyp’ya, in the western part of Ukraine near the large cities of Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk.

She grew up in a small, dirt floor, one-room cottage, heated by a central fireplace/stove. Her mother insisted that she attend school and she learned to read like her mother. Her father left Ukraine to work in France, as a miner, to earn enough money to build a proper house. Her mother supervised the construction of their new home, but after its completion, her father summoned them to join him in France because he feared a war would soon begin and separate them.

Mary was 12 years old when she made the trip to France with her mother, and her father was right about the war. After World War II, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave Ukraine to Russian president Josef Stalin during the Yalta Conference in 1945, and Mary’s parents never saw their proper house again; it remained locked behind the Iron Curtain along with most of their family.

While finishing her schooling, she worked as a maid in several wealthy French homes to help support her family, and she came to the attention of a French family that was visiting hospitalized soldiers. A young Ukrainian man had made his way to France and fought with the Resistance against the Nazis. He had fallen ill, didn’t speak French, and was lonely. The French, being the French, introduced the young man to Mary and they eventually fell in love and were married. They lived in a small house in Lyon, where they made children’s clothing for a French businessman.

Fearing a forced repatriation back to communist-held Ukraine, and wanting a better life for their only child, Danielle, Mary and her husband Eufimy waited for their number to come up in the immigration lottery to legally immigrate to the United States, where they had an aunt willing to sponsor them. They got lucky, and in 1952, they packed up their belongings and sailed on the ocean liner, SS Île de France, to the new world.

Mary and her husband worked in a leather coat factory during the day. Eufimy also worked a second job on night shift at a steel wire manufacturing plant and together they earned enough money to build a home in Somerset. Mary learned to cook in France and enjoyed entertaining friends in her home, serving elaborate, memorable meals that were enjoyed by all. They had a small peach orchard on their property, and she canned peaches every season and also had a large vegetable garden. Mary’s boundless energy led to her embroidery hobby as a way to relax. She created beautifully embroidered clothing, tablecloths, pillowcases, etc. that are treasured by her friends and family and was also an accomplished seamstress and created beautiful crochet and knit sweaters.

When she and her husband retired in 1983, they chose to move to Arkansas, joining her daughter near Russellville, where they built another beautiful home overlooking Lake Dardanelle. She enjoyed gardening, discovering new friends, and nurturing her family.

Mary is survived by her daughter Danielle and husband Steven Smith of London, and their sons: Tim and wife Catherine Smith of Lebanon, TN (and their children: Eli and Natalie), Kenny and wife Amber Smith of Russellville (and their son Max) and many cousins here in the United States and in the Ukraine.

Mary’s family would like to express their thanks to all the wonderful caregivers at Crossroads and Stone Bridge who provided her with loving care over the last few years.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to CARE -Ukraine Crisis Fund.

Family and friends may visit from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. April 28 at the Gleason Funeral Home.

Funeral services will begin 11 a.m. at Saint Andrew Memorial Church, South Bound Brook.

Burial will follow at Saint Andrew Cemetery, in South Bound Brook, under the direction of Gleason Funeral Home, of Somerset.

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