|Baba Halya's biography in English||Baba Halya's biography in Ukrainian|
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Latest photo (August 2010) of Olena (Halya) Turula:|| 1985:|
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Olena (Halya) Turula
1912 - 2010
|Olena Turula, called Halya, was born November 23, 1912, two years before the breakout of the storm which shook the world – World War I, in the village of Yavoriv, just west of Lviv in western Ukraine. Her parents were the Rev. Theodore Chaikivskyi, and his wife Stefania, nee Vynnytska. The Muscovites immediately attacked the Austrians, and Yavoriv found itself under Czarist rule. Halya’s father, a young Ukrainian priest and staunch patriot, was transported to the depths of Russia, and on to Siberia. It was not until the Revolution that Father Theodore was permitted to return to Ukraine. He stayed in central Ukraine for a while, then returned to Yavoriv, determined to help establish an independent Halytsian Ukraine. He was only able to spend a little time with his wife and small daughter, working first to defend Yavoriv, then all of Halytsian Ukraine, from Polish invaders. The cross and the rifle were his weapons: he was a chaplain of the Ukrainian Army of Halych (UHA), sharing the fate of the army across the vast expanses of Ukraine. He died during an anti-Bolshevik cavalry mission somewhere near the town of Zhytomyr. Father Theodora Czajkivskyi’s biography was included in a publication of the Vasylian (Basilian) Priests: “Field Chaplains of the UHA”.|
|[Top row, second from the left] Halya, their only child, remained in the sole care of her mother Stefania. As the daughter of a well-off priest, Stefania had received a sound education, completing a pedagogical seminary and becoming a professional teacher. Under the Polish occupation it was not easy to find a teaching position, but the energetic Stefania, an accomplished mathematician, despite various difficulties, managed to find and maintain a position as a teacher.|
|As a young widow, Stefania and her daughter moved to Peremyshl, where Stefania taught at the well-known Shashkevych Gymnasium, while her daughter attended the Ukrainian women’s gymnasium. In those times an education consisted of four years of primary school, followed by eight years of gymnasium. Having completed the matriculation examinations, a student went on to study at a university. [Thrid row from the top, at left end]|
|[Right-most in this photo] During her years at the gymnasium, Halya was active in sports, and an enthusiastic member of the Ukrainian Youth scouting organization Plast. Each summer she attended camps in the Carpathians, on Sokol mountain. The Polish authorities banned Plast, but it continued to exist illegally, as an underground organization. While in gymnasium, Halya also belonged to the illegal Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), the young women’s (yunachky) group. At that time most idealistic youth were active in the underground OUN.|
After completing her matriculation exams, Halya traveled to Danzig
to continue her studies at the Polytechnicum.
At that time Danzig (now the Polish city of Gdansk) was
a German city.
In 1934 Halya completed her studies of chemistry and obtained
a diploma as an “Inzhener”.
But studies were only a small part of her life in
There was an active branch of the OUN in the city, and various
student corporations, as well as a student hromada
Halya was active in all of them, but especially in the OUN.
It was in Danzig that she got to know her future husband, Pavlo
1934: in Warsaw the OUN precipitated an attack on the Polish minister Pieracki. He was shot, and the assassin managed to break through the cordon and escape out of Poland. Organizers of the attack fled to Danzig, so they could travel from there to Germany. Halya was given the assignment of escorting one of the participants of the attack group across the border. She completed the assignment, even concealing a revolver in her purse through customs and the police barricade. But still the spy system found them out, and Halya ended up in a Polish prison in Warsaw. It was only her conscious efforts and strong will during the investigation that saved her from many years of incarceration. Her imprisonment lasted only a year, during which time other participants in the attack (named the Process of Bandera, Lebed and Colleagues) received sentences ranging from ten years to life imprisonment. They were set free in September 1939, with the start of the German-Polish war.
In 1935 Halya moved to Lviv, where she worked as head of
a laboratory for the Ukrainian battery producer
From Lviv she would travel on vacation to Danzig, and at the same
time Pavlo would travel there from Munich – and during one such
meeting during vacation time Halya and Pavlo were
Eventually Halya managed to get a passport and join her
husband in Freising, Germany.
In Freising, on December 5, 1939 Pavlo and Halya’s first child, Daria, was born. Pavlo obtained employment in the food industry, at a company in Milheim Ruhr, in western Germany, and Halya was also able to find a job. This part of Germany was under constant bombardment from English and US forces, day and night.
|November 13, 1941 the family grew once more with the birth of a son, christened Peter in memory of Pavlo’s brother Peter, who had been murdered by the NKVD that year. In early 1942 the family traveled to Lviv, with the hope of returning to a homeland freed from the Bolsheviks. Pavlo was in charge of an analytical laboratory in Lviv, and also taught food chemistry at the Pharmaceutical Institute. Halya cared for their two small children.|
Their stay in Lviv was short.
In August they sent part of their baggage ahead with the German
evacuation transport to Berlin (it disappeared completely), and
joined the army transport out of the country by train.
The family, including Halya’s mother Stefania, traveled first
through Lemkivshchyna, then through Krynytsia into Slovakia, to
They remained in Bratislava nearly half a year, then
continued onward by various means of transport, freight trains and
trucks, to Munich.
En route Halya’s mother suffered a head trauma when two
train cars rammed each other in a switching yard: she had
been cooking at a potbellied stove, the stove overturned and
the kettle hit her on the head, knocking her out.
She remained paralyzed for the rest of her life.
The German authorities directed the train car in which the Turula family was riding to the mountainside town of Traunstein, where they found accommodations in the village of Matzing. There, one spring day, a column of tanks entered the town. The stars painted on the sides of the tanks frightened them – they thought they were Soviet stars. But soon the family was convinced that these were Americans.
|A displaced persons camp was established near Traunstein, with a Ukrainian section, and Pavlo Turula was appointed its commandant, even though the family lived in a private house with a very big yard, and a great view of the Alps. During the family’s stay in Traunstein Halya gave birth to another daughter, named Theodora, on December 25, 1946. [ Pavlo, Daria, Theodora, Halya, Peter ]|
|Ukrainian community life flourished in the displaced persons camps. Schools were established, youth groups and cultural organizations were founded. Halya became active in Plast once again. There were various Plast activities, including trips to the mountains, regular meetings and other gatherings. [ Halya, Peter (at center) in the Bavarian Alps ]|
|When the Ukrainians in the camp were moved to Dillingen, the family moved first to a farm community, and then to a camp in Neu Ulm. Pavlo taught food chemistry at the Pharmaceutical School in Munich, which was created under the patronage of UNRRA (the United Nations Refugee Resettlement Agency).|
|In 1950 Pavlo and Halya, together with their three children, traveled by boat and train to Chicago, where they began their new life. One year later they purchased a home in Elmwood Park, a suburb just west of Chicago and about ten miles from the Ukrainian neighborhood. Pavlo worked as a chemist in the food services industry, Halya held a factory job for many years before also finding a job as a chemist. [ From the right: Halya, Daria, Peter ]|
|Both Pavlo and Halya were fully engaged in Ukrainian community life. For many years Pavlo chaired the Selfreliance Association, which provided services to elderly Ukrainians and assisted new immigrants resolve the problems they encountered as they settled into their new lives. Halya became active once more in Plast. Many evenings, and every weekend the family would travel into the Ukrainian neighborhood, to drive the children to Ukrainian Saturday School, to various activities and meetings, and to services at St. Nicholas Cathedral. Both Halya and Pavlo volunteered at the Ukrainian National Museum, helping with exhibits, cataloging its holdings and acting as guides when the Museum was open to the public.|
|When the new Ukrainian Catholic Parish of St. Joseph’s was founded on the northwest side of Chicago, the Turula family joined that parish. Halya was one of the organizers of a Ukrainian National Women’s League of America chapter (UNWLA Chapter #74) and was its president for many years. [ need names ]|
After retirement, Halya and Pavlo began a life of snowbirds,
spending the winter months in North Port, Florida.
In 1988 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and the
entire clan gathered in Chicago to mark the momentous
In 1994, fifty years after leaving their homeland Pavlo and Halya
traveled to an independent Ukraine.
The United Ukrainian Freedom Council (UHVR), of which Pavlo
had been a founding member, held 50th anniversary events
in Kyiv and in western Ukraine.
Pavlo Turula died August 18, 1999. at the age of 90. Halya lived out her remaining years at the home of Daria and Brian McKay, in Edinboro, PA.
Olena (Halya) Turula died December 3, 2010. She is survived by her three children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
May she rest in peace.
This biographical sketch was written by Theodora Turula based primarily on Pavlo Turula’s autobiography, written after he had retired and was living in Florida for the winter. We are grateful that he took the time to write his, and Halya’s, life story, so that we would know about our past.
The family of Olena (Halya) Turula:
Standing, from left: Theodora Turula, Brian and Daria McKay, Peter and Ksenia Turula.
Seated: Pavlo and Halya Turula.
Taken at Andrew McKay’s wedding: Top row: Paul Poshyvanyk, Olena C. Turula, Tim McKay, Motria Poshyvanyk Caudill;
Bottom, from left: Stephanie Hargest, Anne Locke, Andrew McKay and Kate Brown.
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