Joseph Charyna was born in Boston, Massachusetts on December 13, 1913. He moved with his mother and his two sisters, Olga and Anna, back to Ukraine when he was seven years of age. They traveled to Ukraine so that his mother could be by his grandmother's side during her final illness. Since they did not have the means to travel back to America, his mother came back alone, and he and his sisters stayed with relatives and friends. It took her seven years to earn their passages back to America. When he came back at age 14, he spoke Ukrainian fluently, of course, but he had forgotten his English!
Joe married Mildred Wishniowsky on April 15,1934. He was nineteen years old and she was twenty. They were married for 71 years when Mildred passed away in 2005.
In his younger years, Joe had many jobs. He was a house painter, worked at the shipyards during World War Two, owned a tavern for a few years, leased a gas stationand sold used cars and real estate, too. During the 1960’s, he finally settled into a career as Chief of Relocation for the Boston Redevelopment Authority. This was during the time that the West End was being re-developed.
Joe was proud to be a staunch Democrat and was always very active politically. He worked on the John B. Hynes campaign for mayor of Boston. From this, he got his first job in Boston City Hall. He worked on John Kennedy's presidential campaign and brought Bobby Kennedy to St. Andrew’s church hall. He worked on Michael Dukakis's campaign for governor and for him again when he ran for president of the United States. Governor Dukakis came to St. Andrew’s, too. I believe Joe was the force behind having the road between Washington Street and Hyde Park Avenue named Ukraine Way.
Joe always maintained his strong connection to Ukraine. He was a pillar of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church. In the early 1950’s, he was a member of the Building Committee, and, in particular, was elected Fund Raising Chairman. Under his bold leadership, Joe organized a bazaar in the Hancock Building in Boston that raised lots of cash for the construction of the church. He also was responsible for the “Buy a Brick” for St. Andrew’s key chains that some may still have in their homes. He was able to obtain a mortgage of $300,000 for the church from the Ukrainian Fraternal Association when no bank would grant them a loan. As a member of St. Andrew’s church choir, Joe used his beautiful tenor voice to glorify God on Sundays. He also sang in the Boston Kobzar Choir. In 1961, 1967, and 1977 and then from 1989 to 1992 he served as President of the Parish.
He also served as Supreme Director of the Ukrainian Fraternal Association and managed Verkovyna, their Ukrainian resort in the Catskills Mountains of New York, for several years. He also was President Emeritus of the Ukrainian American Heritage Foundation of Boston, which has provided scholarships to many deserving students of Ukrainian descent.
Joseph was a life-long learner and enjoyed many things. He was an avid Red Sox fan. He enjoyed reading non-fiction and then in later years listened to books on tape when he could no longer read because of macular degeneration. I was told he read a biography about every one of our United States presidents.
Although Joe was a busy individual, family was what he valued most. His daughter Dorothy wanted me to say that she was blessed to have lived next door to him and her mom for over 40 years so they could share in all of the milestones that are important to a family including the birth of grandchildren, graduations and weddings.
His daughter Joanne wanted me to say that she learned so much from him by observing how he lived his life. He didn’t hesitate to help those who needed his help. Everyone at the independent living facility in Needham where he lived for the past year always referred to him as a real gentleman. He was unfailingly kind and appreciative of every little kindness shown to him.
Joe was most proud of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
His daughters feel they were blessed to have had such a wonderful father. His grandchildren and great grandchildren are so fortunate to have known and loved him. It was very important to Joe that they remember him and remember their Ukrainian heritage. He bought each of his great grandchildren a beautiful Ukrainian doll from Ukraine and named the dolls himself.
Joseph was the devoted father of his daughter Dorothy and her husband John, his daughter Joanne and her husband Charles, cherished grandfather of grandchildren Denise and her husband Ihor, Mark and his wife Christine, Beth and her husband Michael, the late Joey and the late Mary and loving great grandfather of Elizabeth, Mary, Emma and Molly.
Joseph was over a hundred years old, having lived a very full life. He cheated death several times but now he has been called by God to be with his wife, family and friends that have fallen asleep in the Lord before him. We have loved him and will miss him. We pray that we will all be together in the future, in a place where there is no longer any sickness, sadness or sighing,but in a place of everlasting life. Amen.