15 July 2013

Matrilineal Monday: Anna Kurenda Ruczhak

Thirteen years ago today my Baba - Anna Kurenda Ruczhak - passed away. She was an incredible woman and I am thankful every day that I got to know her and appreciate her and my grandfather while they were both still here with us. Often I still feel her presence and am calmed by that feeling.

The photo at right is Baba (on the left) and one of her sisters but I am not sure which one.

I am grateful for the time I spent at her place each summer growing up, though admittedly at that time I went with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I wish I had paid more attention when we would go round visiting all the aunts.  She was one of six children - three brothers and two sisters. We'd also visit my grandfather's four sisters too. She spoke so often of her younger brother Paul. She called him Paulie and he was killed in World War II. The photo below at left is the two of them.

Baba was born Anna Kurenda on 12 August 1917, just as World War I was entangling Europe. Her father, John Kurenda, worked at as a roll setter at Bethlehem Steel (later Lukens), as so many men in the Coatesville area did. Her mother, Frances Skrabalek Kurenda, stayed home and tended to the family, like most women of that time. The Kurenda family lived in Sadsburyville on Sandy Hill Road. She was baptized in the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (now the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Church) in Coatesville. Her Godparents were Nicholas Sawcsyn & Anastasia Morus.

She married Gigi (my grandfather) - Joseph Ruczhak - on 16 July 1939 in the Holy Ghost parish in Coatesville. They had planned to be wed the year before but her father passed 27 February 1938. The family was in mourning and so she had to wait a year before she could wed. They went to the World Fair on their honeymoon!

Baba told us a story once of how they had actually met years earlier. She was almost a half year older than him. They met at Rock Run School. Gigi's parents did not speak English - or at least not well. The teacher there asked Baba to teach Gigi English and help him with his studies!

Her and Gigi had two sons - my dad and my Uncle John. She worked several jobs over the years. She had worked at Cardinal Cotton & Maytown Sewing Factory, the Friendly Grocery Store, Ann's Steak Shop and Burrough's Corp.

She was active at church and was a member of the Sisterhood. She was also an Auxiliary member of the West End Fire Co. in Coatesville.

Gigi passed 18 August 1997 at home. He had a heart attack. Baba fell ill later and passed 15 July 2000. They are buried together in the church cemetery.


  1. What a lovely story and memorial about your Baba.

  2. Thank you, Yvonne! She was indeed special.

  3. I found your blog through the Geneabloggers Pinterest board. What a lovely post about your Baba! I was very close with my grandmother, so this story really struck a chord with me. You have such great photos of your Baba! Thanks for sharing this.