Taras Durbak, leading activist in Plast and Catholic Church, 86

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Taras Durbak, a chemical engineer and leading Plast and Ukrainian Church activist, died here on December 31, 1996. He was 86.

Mr. Durbak was born on June 3, 1911, in Lviv.

An active member of Plast since his youth in Ukraine, he was a member of the Chornomortsi Plast fraternity and held various positions in the Supreme Plast Command. He resumed his work in Plast in Germany after having fled Soviet-occupied Ukraine during World War II.

Upon emigrating to the U.S., Mr. Durbak continued to work in Plast, becoming active in the Newark, N.J., Plast Branch. Subsequently, he served as vice-president of the National Plast Command, was a member of the Supreme Plast Bulava and president of the Supreme Plast Council (1980-1983).

Mr. Durbak was one of the founders and first president of the Tysovsky Senior Plast Fraternity, the first Plast fraternity of seniors to be established in the U.S.

In recognition of Mr. Durbak's lifelong service and dedication to Plast, he was awarded the medal of merit in 1929 and Plast's highest honor, the St. George Medal (gold), in 1958.

Mr. Durbak lived in Newark until his retirement in the 1980s.

He was a member of the Ukrainian Engineers' Society of America.

A parishioner and active member of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Newark, Mr. Durbak was a trustee and member of the church board. In recognition of his work for the Ukrainian Catholic Church and St. John's parish, he was named a Knight of St. Gregory the Great by the pope.

Mr. Durbak is survived by his wife, Maria Anna, nee Bilostotska; son, Dmytro; grandchildren, Aleksander and Amanda; and brothers, Borys and Aleksander.

Funeral services were held January 3 at the Epiphany Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Former Winnipeg school trustee and Ps/Bs leader, Michael Sawka

by Christopher Guly

WINNIPEG - Bushy browed and always grinning, Michael Harry Sawka was a fixture in both North End Winnipeg's Ukrainian community and in local school board politics - where he served as a school trustee for the Seven Oaks School Division for 18 years.

Mr. Sawka died suddenly in Winnipeg of an apparent heart attack on December 21, 1996. He was 67 years old.

Born in Winnipeg on November 9, 1929, Mr. Sawka received his bachelor of electrical engineering degree from the University of Manitoba in 1955 and his education degree from the same university 12 years later.

His academic credentials were reflected in his work experience: he was an electrical engineer with the Manitoba Telephone System for eight years, and an instructor and career guidance counselor with Red River Community College for 33 years until his June 21, 1996, retirement.

A former president of the Ukrainian Professional and Business Club in Winnipeg, Mr. Sawka served in the Canadian Naval Reserves for 25 years, retiring as a lieutenant commander. He was also a member of the Ukrainian-Canadian Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 141 in Winnipeg.

Mr. Sawka leaves behind his wife, four children, three grandchildren and a brother. More than 400 mourners packed into St. Nicholas Church on December 26 to attend a funeral prayer service, which was followed the next morning by a memorial liturgy.

Burial was at Holy Family Cemetery outside Winnipeg.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, February 9, 1997, No. 6, Vol. LXV

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