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PARISH OF THE NEW ENGLAND DIOCESE OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA
Vera and Frank Hunka
God called Vera Mary (Paskevich) Hunka, 90, home on Palm Sunday, March 28, 2010, following a period of failing health at Sullivan County Health Care, Claremont, NH. In the absence of a formal obituary, we have Vera’s bio, recorded by the HROC member Lee Browne in early 2000.
Vera was born in Claremont on October 17, 1919, to Stephan K. and Olga F. (Bandarevich) Paskevich. She remembered, as a child walking with her parents and brother from their home on Park Avenue to the Orthodox Church on High Street. There were no chairs, but the children were allowed to sit on the floor by their parents. For many years her father chanted Epistle in Slavonic during services. He has served as president and treasurer of the church, and her mother held the same offices in the Sisterhood.
Among Vera’s childhood memories, her ninth birthday stood out when her loving parents bought her a new piano. It had a roller player attached with printed words. Vera loved to play and also sing at the same time, pretending she was giving a concert. Vera took music lessons and participated in recitals. In high school, she took clarinet lessons and played in the band and orchestra. When she was a freshman, her brother, Walter, was a senior and was already showing the talent that would lead to his career as a music and band teacher at Stevens High School in Claremont. He played the drums and other percussion instruments in the band and was the first chair violin in the orchestra. Vera and Walter liked to play their musical instruments at home, especially during the holidays, and their parents would join them in singing. Those were glorious and happy days for the family.
When Vera graduated from Stevens High School in 1937, while the country was still experiencing the great depression, there were a significant number of unemployed people. Vera was thankful that she obtained employment in retail sales and later changed to another company, becoming a manager of the ladies’ fashion department. That was a great responsibility for the 19-year-old. And she felt privileged to attend the fashion shows in New York.
A few years later, Vera entered the insurance field as a bookkeeper and then went to work at a bank in Claremont doing the ledger and proof teller work, which included processing all of the bank’s business. Altogether she worked at the bank for ten years.
But the most important event in Vera’s life was her meeting with Frank Patrick Hunka from Springfield, VT. In high school, Frank excelled in all sports and played on the varsity football, basketball, and baseball teams. After high school, he served four years in the U.S. Army during WWII. He had just returned to his family home when he and Vera were introduced.
Frank was a gentle, well-mannered young man, and he and Vera shared a lot of good times. They were married on November 27, 1948, in the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. Frank found employment in Claremont and traveled to various states for his company. He also loved fishing, motorcycle, and bowling in the business people’s league.
While Frank was working daily out of town, Vera took a year off from work to purchase the material and oversee the building of their new home, where they moved on November 6, 1952.
Then Vera returned to work at the bank as a commercial teller and trainer of new personnel. She enjoyed all phases of her work. She retired from the bank in 1977 to spend more time with her frail, widowed mother. Her mother passed away in 1986. Vera was still thankful she could spend time with her and brighten her last years. Frank retired in 1983 after 34 years of steady employment without missing a day’s work.
Vera and Frank received much happiness and peacefulness in attending the Orthodox Church weekly together and singing in the choir. Although Frank was a Roman Catholic, he was always willing to help the parish, whether it was mowing the lawn or assisting with constructing a new kitchen in the church’s basement.
Then came the unbelievably sad day of Frank’s death on June 2, 1991. It started for the couple as usual; they attended the church, then at noon, they participated in an American Association of Retired Persons’ banquet. At the close of the program, they rode to the Springfield cemetery to visit Frank’s mother and father’s graves. When Frank’s former neighbor from Springfield stopped by to converse with them, Frank suddenly fell to the ground. He had suffered cardiac arrest and died within a few minutes.
Vera said she had always been thankful that God let her have 43 years of a happy marriage with Frank. When he was alive, every evening at bedtime, she would say thank you to Frank for that day. They were a very close and loving couple, and she felt that even after his passing, he stayed with her in spirit, reminding her about himself through the flowering shrubs and flowers he planted around their home.
Also, during Divine Liturgy, in the Litany of Supplication, whenever Vera was reciting the prayer, asking the Lord “for a Christian ending to our life: painless, blameless, and peaceful,” she always thought about her dear Frank, because this was a wish that he had often mentioned to Vera and the Dear God heard him.
Vera has quietly accomplished much in her community and her church. During the war, she completed the American Red Cross Nurse’s Aide course and did night duty at the local hospital three times a week, following her regular day’s work at the insurance office. Also, she served as a U.S. hostess at the Community Center for the naval cadets trained at Dartmouth.
After the war, Vera was a member of the Quota Club of Claremont, a professional business women’s organization of the United States. The project of the Claremont club was to serve the hard of hearing. Vera held the office of treasurer and chaired two club committees.
After her retirement, Vera volunteered to read to the blind and the kindergarten children for the LAP program. Vera also served on the petit jury in the Superior Court and worked at the polls for the national and local elections.
For our church, Vera served as treasurer, wrote cards to the ill members of the church, called on the sick, and phoned them. She prepared food baskets using food donated by church members and, with Frank’s help, delivered them to the Visiting Nurses to distribute to elderly patients who had just returned from the hospital or as Christmas presents.
Of her public service and church work, Vera used to say, “It was my way to extending my hand to the community, I hope that our church continues to grow, and I hope that everyone continues to support it in every way possible, as did our parents, the founders of this beautiful church.”
Her favorite quotation originated in Russian and came from her mother, who said that people could not even step over the threshold without God.
With her brother, Vera contributed to the beautification of the church; they commissioned iconographer, Fr. Andrew Tregubov, to paint two wall icons in memory of their parents, Stephen and Olga, and also two icons in memory of her beloved husband, Frank.
Vera was devoted to her parents and her husband, and her community. Her spirit and prayer life were simple, as she said, “The Lord’s prayer that I recited in childhood with my mother, in my golden years I continued to say several times a day.”
Memory eternal to you, dear Vera and Frank; rest in peace with the saints!
Frank Patrick Hunka, 69, died upon arrival at Springfield Hospital in Springfield, VT, on June 2, 1991. He was born on July 30, 1922, in Springfield, VT, the son of Ignacy and Mary (Ploska) Hunka.
He was a graduate of Springfield High School in the Class of 1941. He served in the U S Army from December 12, 1942, to February 26, 1946. He was briefly employed at Jones and Lamson Machine Co. and worked for First National Stores Inc. for thirty-four years. He was a member of the National AARP and a charter member of the Claremont Chapter. He was an Early Bird member of the American Legion Post No 29 in Claremont.
He married Vera Peskevich on November 27, 1948, in Claremont. Survivors include his wife of Claremont and sister Janet Chamberlin of Hagaman, NY.
Burial was in Mountain View Cemetery.
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