Dr. Myroslawa Mysko-Iwanciw (1919–2021)

02 February 2021

It was with a deep sense of loss that the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies learned of the death of Dr. Myroslawa Mysko-Iwanciw, who passed away in Chicago on 14 January 2021 at the age of 102. Along with her late husband, Dr. Ivan Iwanciw, she generously donated to many Ukrainian charitable causes and was responsible for establishing two endowments at CIUS.

Born in the town of Vynnyky, Lviv county (today a part of Lychakiv district in the greater municipality of Lviv), she attended a local primary school until the age of ten and then continued with her secondary education at the Basilian Sisters’ Gymnasium in Lviv, graduating in 1938. She next pursued medical studies in Warsaw, where she also became active in the Ukrainian underground. After the outbreak of WWII and the partitioning of the Second Polish Republic with the Nazi-Soviet invasion in September 1939, Myroslawa was arrested and imprisoned for being a member of a nationalist organization, spending a month in solitary confinement in Lviv. After her release she made her way to German-occupied Kraków and immediately became involved in the vibrant Ukrainian student community there. However, in an effort to avoid being constantly surveilled by the authorities she subsequently relocated twice in order to further her studies—first to Berlin and then to Breslau (present-day Wrocław), successfully obtaining a diploma in dentistry in 1944.

Myroslawa then provided dental care in Austria for those displaced by the war and was reunited with her mother and sister, who had fled Galicia upon the return of the Soviet army. Moving further west with them to Regensburg and Munich, she met and in 1948 married a fellow refugee, Ivan Iwanciw, a medical student, who shared her strong commitment to Ukraine’s struggle for independence. Together with her new husband she resumed her education at Heidelberg University, where Ivan advanced his medical training and in 1950 Myroslawa completed a doctorate in dentistry prior to emigrating with her family to the United States.

Settling in Chicago, she initially found work in a factory while at the same time studying English with the goal of finding office work, due to the difficulties of getting her dental credentials recognized in America. In the meantime, her husband joined the U.S. Army as a physician and was posted to western Europe, where Myroslawa was able to accompany him. When they returned stateside they rejoined the Ukrainian community in Chicago, becoming dedicated members of the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral parish and active in Ukrainian affairs. From 1968 to 1993 Myroslawa travelled annually to Ukraine, providing help to family members living under the Soviet regime and supporting many young Ukrainian scientists and artists.

Within a year’s time in 1981–82 Myroslawa suffered a double blow when first her mother and then her devoted husband, Ivan, passed away. In the wake of these losses she resolved to dedicate some of her energies to supporting Ukrainian studies, having always been passionate about Ukrainian culture and education. Her legacy lives on with two endowments established at CIUS in her and her late husband’s names. The first was initially created with a donation of $128,929 in 1989 to fund scholarly exchanges with Ukraine. The second endowment was established in 2006 with a contribution of $57,105 in support of CIUS activities, with priority being given to students and scholars conducting research in the field of Ukrainian studies.

On the occasion of  Myroslawa’s passing after a long, remarkable, and distinguished life, we at CIUS extend our sympathies to her surviving family members and gratefully acknowledge Drs. Iwanciw and  Mysko-Iwanciw’s exemplary generosity, which will continue to advance Ukrainian studies in the years ahead.

May her memory be eternal!