PETER MIKULIAK (1944 Ė 2000)

   To all of you who loved and will miss Peter Mikuliak, here is his wife Pamís obituary, based on what was written with so much love and admiration by his natural family, but expanded somewhat with some understandings she gained from talks with Peter about the whys and wherefores of what he did:

   Peter Mikuliak, 56, of Post Falls, Idaho died Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2000, after a long battle with cancer. He was married to Dr. Pamela Olsen May 17, 1998. Born April 28, 1944 in St. Louis to Rev. Paul E. and Matushka Martha (Yurkovsky) Mikuliak, he graduated in 1962 from Fort Lauderdale High School in Florida, and completed a bachelor's degree in history at Antioch College in 1967. While at Antioch, he especially enjoyed the roles in his co-op jobs of short-order cook in New Hampshire, coal miner in Canada, deck-hand on a German banana boat, and street musician while working his way through Europe. During the civil rights movement, he went to Mississippi to help register blacks to vote.

   After leaving Antioch, he studied Russian history for a year at Georgetown University. Then, wanting to make history rather than teach it, he joined the Peace Corps, serving from 1969 to 1971 in a small Brazilian village. Impacted there by the extreme poverty he found, he went on to study economics and business management at Vanderbilt University (1971-73), hopeful that what he learned would help him in assisting small business development in poor regions of the world. At the same time, he became convinced that the source of much human suffering is our failure to love and help one another. The rest of his life's work grew from his understanding that there must be a meeting of the economic and spiritual aspects of existence if we are to reduce human poverty and suffering.

   After working for his church for several years in a variety of situations, Peter studied at St.Vladimirís Orthodox Theological Seminary from 1976 to 1979. Then, after some pastoral training in a drug and alcohol treatment center in Georgia, he served for a year as director of a drug and alcohol program in the Native American fishing village of Tyonek, Alaska. From 1984 to 1993, he was associate regional director for the Cherry Hill, N.J., office of Church World Service/CROP, raising money to fund relief and development projects throughout the world. In that effort, he spoke to countless church groups and social organizations about world hunger. During vacations, he led ecumenical teams on trips to Russia to rebuild monasteries that had been returned to the Orthodox Church by the Russian government.

   After working for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in the U.S. and Russia, his international service culminated in 1995 with his re-employment by Church World Service as regional director for the Balkans, where he worked with a multi-ethnic team (Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox) to coordinate post-war re-development projects for each of these ethnic groups.

   While he was in Bosnia, Peter discovered the power of the Internet in being able to coordinate complicated projects quickly and easily to help people in need. Thus, when he married and moved to Idaho, he moved happily into a job with (now to help develop their medical website. There he was valued not only for his management skills, but for the spirit, vitality and love that permeated everything he did.

   Peter enjoyed not only his work, but also his leisure time, although much of what he considered leisure would be thought of as work by others. He loved to study, seriously proposing to his new bride that together they might learn a new foreign language every three months (they managed to get a good start on Norwegian). He was fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and got along well in Russian and Serbo-Croatian. He knew enough Latin, Hebrew and Greek to appreciate their beauty, and he could ask how to find a good restaurant in several other languages. He had a deep respect for the people of all cultures with which he came in contact, and had a special knack wherever he went for being accepted as one of their own.

   He was an avid student of history, literature, art, music, theology, and philosophy. He loved good food, appreciating a wide variety of cuisines. He passionately enjoyed listening to and making good music, his taste ranging from ethnic folk to classical. He enjoyed performing Russian gypsy songs and old Brazilian sambas, but just as much enjoyed singing in the St. Vladimirís Seminary Octet, The Singing City Choir in Philadelphia (which provided opportunities to perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra both in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall and, traveling with the choir to Moscow, Novgorod, and then - Leningrad, to sing with the Leningrad Philharmonic), the Spokane Symphony Chorale, and his own parish choir. He was an enthusiastic member of Post Falls Toastmasterís Club and the Kootenai County Idaho Democrats.

   Peter is survived by his wife Pam, sister Lubov Pavuk, Mayfield, Pa., his niece Kathy, nephews Sasha and Mike, a large extended family, and many friends who will miss him. He was preceded in death by his parents.

   A memorial service was held at noon September 8th at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Spokane. The funeral will be held at St.Tikhonís Orthodox Monastery in South Canaan, Pa., at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday Sept. 16.

   We hope to set up a memorial in his honor with Church World Service to support the projects that he started there, and others like them (read about these projects on his website at

   Contributions to this or his medical expenses can be sent to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1703 North Washington Avenue, Spokane, Washington, 99205.

Another Obituary

   Peter P. Mikuliak, 56, of Post Falls, Idaho, died on September 5, 2000 at Kootenai County Hospital, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, after a lengthy struggle with cancer. His widow is the former Dr Pamela Olsen. The couple was married in May 1998.

   Born in 1944 in St Louis, Missouri to the late Rev Paul E. and Matushka Martha Yurkovsky Mikuliak, he graduated from Fort Lauderdale High School, Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1962. He received a BA from Antioch College in 1967. He than pursued graduate-level studies at Georgetown University (Russian History) in 1967-68, at Vanderbilt University School of Management (Economics) in 1971-73, and at St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. (Divinity) 1976-79.

   Since beginning his college career in 1964, he led a remarkable life. In the 1960's Civil Rights Movement, he volunteered to serve with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNUG) in Marshal County. Mississippi, where he faced tremendous personal danger registering black voters. He was also a Peace Corps volunteer for several years in Espirito Santo, Brazil where he honed his skills as a community-development coordinator and grass-roots organizer. He was employed variously as a Miner's laborer in Lynn Lake, Manitoba, Canada; as the Director of the SCOBA Campus Commission for expansion of Orthodox Christian Fellowship programs on American college campuses; as Editor of Concern Magazine; as Director of an Alcohol/Drug abuse program in the Native American fishing village of Tyonek, Alaska; as Associate Regional Director for the Cherry Hill. New Jersey Office of Church World Service/CROP, where he drove throughout the Mid Atlantic states speaking on the subject of world hunger; as a Group leader for The National Council of Churches of Christ's inter-faith work projects, where he led multi ethnic teams renovating monasteries that had been returned to the Russian Orthodox church by the national government; and as Director of Volunteer Programs in the U.S., and later, acting regional representative in Moscow, Russia, for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). His international service culminated with his employment at Church World Service as Regional Director for the Balkans based in Metkovic, Croatia and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. There he coordinated war-relief projects for all of the region's peoples. Most recently, he was employed by Netivation Inc. in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho as a community web designer. He was seeking ways to integrate the technology of the internet with global relief and development.

   His unquenchable curiosity and desire for new experiences led him to travel the world exploring other cultures, meeting countless acquaintances, and building lasting friendships and ties with people all over the globe. His curiosity was complimented by a splendid intellect, which permitted him to become fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian, and fueled his life-long zest for knowledge. He pursued theology, classical literature, history, philosophy and anything else he could get his hands on, with equal joy.

   But he was mostly a man who sought to find the connections between theory and practice, between books and life. He freely gave of himself and his extraordinarily diverse talents primarily for the well being of others. He traveled through life sharing his wonderful sense of humor and unique perspective on the world, and in so doing brought joy and relief to many. His varied interests, skills and hobbies included, along with his passion for reading, writing (he published numerous essays and opinion pieces over the years), hiking and other activities in the outdoors, organic gardening, and computer communications. He also held a brown belt in Judo.

   As a person who took great delight in music, he was a life-long opera aficionado and a classical guitarist. He also sang in many choirs and choruses throughout the years. While living in the Philadelphia area, he was a member of Singing City, which had opportunities to sing with the Philadelphia Orchestra both in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall.  He traveled with the choir to Moscow, Novgorod, and Leningrad where they sang with the Leningrad Philharmonic. He specialized in playing his guitar while singing Russian Gypsy music, old Brazilian sambas, and other unique pieces, occasionally assuming the stage name "Petrushka." Most recently, he sang as a member of the Spokane (WA) Community Chorale. In addition to these activities, he enjoyed reminding people that he had remained an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan, despite the passage of 42 years (see his article, "God and the Brooklyn Dodgers").

   He was a tonsured reader of the Orthodox Church. and in many ways and places, dedicated his life to the church. While in Alaska, for example, he often performed entire cycles of yearly services while tending to the many spiritual needs of the far-flung villagers because, many times, priests were unavailable to do so. Presently, he was a member of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Spokane Washington; its choir, and church school faculty. He was also a noted public speaker, and won numerous awards as a member of his local Toastmasters International Club. Politically, he was always both perceptive and active; his familiarity and concern for world affairs, international justice and human rights was a major focus of his life.

   Surviving is a sister, Lubov Pavuk, Mayfield, Pennsylvania, a niece, nephews, great nieces, and cousins.

   The funeral will be at St Tikhon's Orthodox Monastery in South Canaan. Pennsylvania on Saturday September 16 at 11:00, with interment in the monastery cemetery. 

   In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to:

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church,
1703 North Washington Avenue,
Spokane, Washington, 99205.

  See the Summer 2000 issue of Jacob's Well - Stories: Yours, Mine, and Ours dedicated to Peter.

Visit the Orthodox Church in America Homepage