Mykola Sawicky, 96, of Philadelphia, a Ukrainian native who survived a German work camp during World War II and came to America in 1949 seeking a new life, died Friday, May 2, of dementia at his home.
Mr. Sawicky was a 22-year-old soldier in the Polish army in September 1939 when Poland, which then included parts of Ukraine, was invaded by the Third Reich. He was captured by the Nazis and forced to work in a labor camp until 1942, when he escaped.
After a visit to his homeland, he went to Germany to look for displaced relatives. There he met and married Maria Spajcher, another Ukrainian.
The couple and their two children set out for America. They were sent to live in Missoula, Mont. Soon, a third child was born.
But when a railway accident took the life of their second child, Irina, 2, the couple sought solace in Philadelphia's Ukrainian community. The family settled on North Randolph Street, and stayed for more than 50 years. The couple felt blessed to become U.S. citizens in 1961 and live "the American dream."
"My father-in-law embraced his new country and was a proud Ukrainian American as well a proud Philadelphian," said Joseph S. Rizzello.
Born in Rudki, in western Ukraine, Mr. Sawicky was one of eight children.
After World War II, he worked as a driver for an American military officer. Later, he became a building construction foreman in Philadelphia. He retired in 1982 at age 65.
He was a founding member of the Ukrainian League of Philadelphia.
Surviving, in addition to his wife, are sons Eugene and Myron; a daughter, Daria Rizzello; eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
A viewing from 9 to 9:45 a.m. and a Requiem liturgy at 10 a.m. will be Thursday, May 8, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 833 N. Franklin St. Burial is in St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery, Elkins Park.