Post image for Memory Eternal: Yuriy Handler

Memory Eternal: Yuriy Handler

January 18, 2011

Yuriy Handler, the father of our parishioner Paullina Simons, reposed in Our Lord on Monday, January 17, 2011, after enduring through a long illness.  Yuriy was predeceased by his loving wife Albina Handler, with whom he is pictured above.

The wake and funeral were both celebrated here at St. Andrew’s, on January 21 and 22. Following the Panikhida (Memorial Service) at the wake, Fr. John offered a eulogy of Yuriy, which we have reposted here.

I knew Yuriy only for a short time, and didn’t have the opportunity to minister to him very often. By the time that I met him, at his mother’s funeral and later at the funeral of his wife, Albina, he was clearly bearing the weighty burden of those events. He was also quite ill at the time of his wife’s passing, though that was not his focus. Instead, he appeared in a sense to be utterly lost without Albina. I did not see the smile on his face that you see in the photo with his wife, a smile that reflected an inner warmth, a boldness and the large grasp of life that somone of his character and scale of accomplishments would typically have.

He seems to me to have been a confident man, someone who knew himself and was relaxed and comfortable with who he was. This is indeed a great blessing. We have all known those many, many souls who, though possessed of great gifts, are also caught up by some inner self-doubt that grows up alongside and cuts them back. Yuriy was not like this, and he was a husband and father who was not afraid of the suffering that life inevitably asks us to taste. Perhaps that is because early in his life he had to do precisely this, to embrace the difficult and the challenging, being torn away from his family and imprisoned for a time. Using this time wisely to advance himself, he learned another language that would enable him to bridge two worlds and cultures, and to provide a way of crossing for his family and for many others. Indeed, it was with his work for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that Yuriy would express that large voice of confidence which would speak and give hope to many living in oppression. It is not ironic that he chose this course for, after captivity, who doesn’t celebrate their freedom, and I think the freedom of the mind and spirit was important to him, along with geographical freedom.

All of you gathered here no doubt know much more of Yuriy’s life than I, so I will keep my remarks brief. However, I do know his family, his children and grandchildren. Very often in a sitation such as this, one must look to these persons for indications about the life of their forebearer. With these children we see the same willingness and courage to try new things, to move forward in life, to have and to offer hope. We also see a respect and understanding toward tradition, understood as a trajectory: something that at the same time reveals our origins and charts a course for us in a seemingly hostile and chaotic world. By defining our boundaries, it focuses our efforts and makes possible the transformation of life, time and person, the heart of what we understand the Christian tradition to be.

May +Yuriy’s memory be eternal!

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