OBITUARY: Mary Lesawyer, 91, opera singer and community activist

ORLANDO, Fla. - Mary Lesawyer, a former opera singer and wife of former longtime president of the Ukrainian National Association Joseph Lesawyer, died here on June 13. She was 91.

She was born in Shamokin, Pa., on October 8, 1917. After studying at The Juilliard School, she embarked upon an operatic career that spanned two decades and took her to various venues in the United States, Canada, South America and Europe.

A lyric soprano, Mrs. Lesawyer was affiliated with the New York City Opera. She appeared in productions of "Carmen," "La Traviata," "Madame Butterfly," "Manon," "The Marriage of Figaro," "The Consul," "Ariadne auf Naxos" and other operas, including four American operas - "Susannah," "The Ballad of Baby Doe," "Street Scene" and "Six Characters in Search of an Author" - that were presented during the NYCO's 1960 nationwide tour that covered 20 cities.

Mrs. Lesawyer also performed at countless Ukrainian American community functions through the years, appearing in various concerts and operas. Among her credits in Ukrainian operas are roles in Mykola Lysenko's "May Night," Semen Hulak-Artemovsky's "Zaporozhian Kozak Beyond the Danube," Mykola Arkas's "Catherine" and Paul Pecheniha-Ouglitzky's "The Witch."

She was active in the Ukrainian National Association and the Ukrainian National Women's League of America, among other community organizations.

Mrs. Lesawyer was known also for her active involvement in numerous community endeavors at the side of her husband, who served in roles as diverse as UNA supreme president (1961-1978) and before that as vice-president (1950-1954, 1958-1961); vice-president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America; vice-president of the World Congress of Free Ukrainians; and executive director of the Shevchenko Memorial Committee, to name a few.

The Lesawyers lived for many years in Scotch Plains, N.J., before moving to Venice, Fla., after their retirement. They were members of the Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church in North Port, Fla.

Most recently they resided at an assisted living facility in Orlando, Fla.

The funeral liturgy was offered at St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church in Apopka, Fla., with the Rev. Ivan Kubishyn officiating. Burial was to follow at a later date at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville, Pa.

Surviving are Mrs. Lesawyer's husband, Joseph; as well as many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, Central and North Florida Chapter, 2010 Mizell Ave., Winter Park, FL 32792-4119.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, June 27, 2004, No. 26, Vol. LXXII

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