|The Oravetz, Rebar, Prusak, Kuzio, Herpak, and Kovachik Families of Pennsylvania|
Welcome to the 16th annual family reunion of descendants of the Oravetz, Oravec, Rebar, Kovachik, Lelak, and Kozak families. In The Family Portrait this year we are featuring a short story on the Rebar family ancestry, some odds-and-ends from Jim's research, and some interesting information on the Carpatho-Rusyns, also known as Ruthenians, Rusnaks, and several other names. If any of your relatives are Greek Catholic or Ukrainian Catholic, chances are very good that they are Carpatho-Rusyn. Mike Kuzio has begun researching his Carpatho-Rusyn Kuzio roots and has come up with some fascinating findings. Some of his personal story is presented here, and we hope that he will continue his tale in future newsletters. His research will be of benefit to other members of our extended family who have Ukrainian Catholic and Greek Catholic ancestors.
(Photo above: Mary (Oravetz) White and Joe Oravetz)
You will notice that we are including more photographs this year. These are mostly random shots made at last year's reunion, but we plan to add historical photos in years to come. We welcome your stories and picture contributions. We apologize for all the family news that we did not include. You have to give it to us in order for it to appear here. We are trying to stick to a strict chronological order within the categories so as not to slight anyone. If we mess up, well, we're family. Next year we hope to feature the Herpak family, so we invite you to share any stories you may know of them.
At the 1996 reunion there were 84 attendees from 9 states. Not a record, but a very good turnout.
Florida: Frank and Barbara Rebar (Ormond Beach)
Texas: Joe and Barbara Oravetz and children Hayley, Nicholas and Alexandra (Coppell)
Virginia: Beverly Rebar (Virginia Beach); Nancy Rebar (Fairfax); and Tony Pasquale (Centreville)
Maryland: Linda Rebar (Baltimore); Jean Hogan (Baltimore); Ed and Mary Rebar (Bowie); Alan Rebar (Baltimore); and Jim and Carolyn Rebar (Columbia)
Michigan: Donna and Bill Breyer and sons Willie and Tim (Oxford); Patty Kus-Curson, son Jeff Curson , and other children Andy, Chris, and Cindy Kus (Lake Orion)
Pennsylvania: Patty and Tom Kirsch and sons Jesse and Tom (Barnesboro); Donna Sivy and Ethel Holligan (Turtle Creek); Bob White and sons Shawn and Matt (Glenshaw); Mary White (Canonsburg); Mike and Jean Kuzio and daughters Sharon and Lorie (Altoona); Sandy and Bill Harchak and children Melissa, Zachary and Mackenzie (Osceola Mills); Marlene and Dave Kohute and grandchildren Stephen and Jason Kohute (Ramey); Brian and Amanda Milliron (friends of the Kohutes); Elma and Tony Venerick (Clearfield); Sara and Paul Mohar (Harrisburg); Dave and Elsie Rebar (Whitney); Verna Kuzio (Bakerton); Betty Lechene and friend Mike Berzorsky (Bakerton); Tisha and Carl Gallaher and son Zachary (Burnside); John Kuzio (Barnesboro R.D.); David and Margie Wadding and son Joshua (Elizabeth Town); David Rebar, Jr. (Pittsburgh); Wayne Rebar and friend, Monica Mulcahey (Greensburg); and Dot and Andy Polenik (Clymer R.D.).
New York: Alta and Paul Johnson (Niagara Falls); Rob and Amy Bungo and daughter Raylene (Niagara Falls); and Elva Shaffer (Niagara Falls)
Ohio: Bill and Mary Prusak and daughter Anne Marie (Parma)
David and Rebecca (Noble) Kohute were united in marriage on August 10, 1996. David is the son of Dave and Marlene (Rebar) Kohute, grandson of Joseph and Elisabeth (Swartz) Rebar, and great-grandson of Andrew and Katrine (Kozak) Rebar. He and Rebecca now reside in Cresson, PA.
Sharon Leigh Kuzio and Michael Berkheimer were married October 19, 1996 at St. Rose of Lima RC Church in Altoona, PA. Sharon is the daughter of Mike and Jean (Parrish) Kuzio, granddaughter of Mike and Veronica (Oravetz) Kuzio, and great-granddaughter of Joseph and Mary (Lelak) Oravetz.
George David Kohute and Lynne Elisabeth Milliron were joined in marriage on May 31, 1997 at Assembly of God Church, Philipsburg, PA. George is also the son of Dave and Marlene (Rebar) Kohute. He and Lynne now reside in West Decatur, PA.
Paula Ann Burkholtz and Jeffrey Rupert were united in marriage on June 7, 1997 at St. Jacob's Presbyterian Church in Shelocta, PA. Paula is the great-granddaughter of Joseph and Margaret (Lelak) Kovachik.
Earl ("Tony") and Elma (Rebar) Venerick of Clearfield, PA, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on January 22, 1997. Congratulations to a wonderful couple. Their children, Shelley Cunningham and Earl Venerick, hosted a party for the occasion on May 17, 1997 in Shelley's home. Elma is the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Swartz) Rebar.
Jacob Aider Hoffman arrived on June 9, 1997. He is the son of Brian and Thelma Hoffman, Mechanicsburg, PA, grandson of Martha Miller, great-grandson of Mary (Rebar) Petcavage, and great-great-grandson of Joseph and Elizabeth (Swartz) Rebar. Jacob joins an older sister, Emily.
Philip Andrew Bungo was born July 15, 1997, to Rob and Amy (Sortore) Bungo. Philip is the grandson of Alta (Bloom) Bungo Johnson and the late Robert Bungo, and great-grandson of Anna (Rebar) and Singleton Bloom.
Alan E. Rebar, son of Edward and Mary (Molnarko) Rebar, graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), with a M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). In the near future, Alan will be an ESOL teacher in the public school system in Baltimore or another jurisdiction in Maryland. He plans to teach English as a foreign language in far away lands during his summer vacations.
Alan, grandson of John and Margaret (Oravetz) Rebar, was an SAT finalist and Maryland Distinguished Scholar. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in American History from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is about to launch two pulp detective magazines and a corresponding Web site on the Internet, and is presently reachable at: email@example.com via email.Jesse Kirsch (left), son of Tom and Pat (Oravetz) Kirsch, graduated from St. Francis College, Loretto, PA, in May 1997 with a degree as a Physician's Assistant. Jesse was named a United States National Collegiate Award winner in the Physician Assistant program. The criteria for selection for the award are academic performance, interest and aptitude, leadership qualities, responsibility, enthusiasm, motivation to learn and improve, citizenship, attitude and cooperative spirit, and dependability. Jesse is the grandson of Rudolph and Veronica (Keblesh) Oravetz.
Matthew Kuzio, son of John and Betty (Bell) Kuzio, graduated from Northern Cambria High School on June 2, 1997. Matthew is the grandson of Michael and Veronica (Oravetz) Kuzio.Chris Kus (left), son of Pat Kus-Curson, graduated from Lake Orion High School, Michigan, on June 13, 1997. Chris is the grandson of John and Stella (Nazarek) Rebar and great-grandson of John and Margaret (Oravetz) Rebar.
Betina Dee Rebar graduated from Clearfield H.S. on June 6, 1997. Betina is the daughter of David and Bunni Rebar, granddaughter of Mary (Rebar) Petcavage, and great-granddaughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Swartz) Rebar. Her future plans are to enter the U.S. Military.
Ann Ward, daughter of George and Anna (Chatnick) Rebar, died of cancer on October 9, 1996. Ann is survived by her husband, Tom, and children Terry, Debbie, and Tommie, and five grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her two sons, Doug and Steve.
Paul Johnson, husband of Alta (Bloom) Bungo Johnson, suffered a mild stroke last Winter while in Florida. Alta sent word via her daughter, Shirley (Bungo) Darin, that Paul's condition is not serious, and they hope to join us again soon at a family reunion. Alta is the daughter of Singleton L. and Anna (Rebar) Bloom.
Elmer Rebar of Erie, PA, son of the late Joseph and Elizabeth (Swartz) Rebar is currently very ill.Verna (Oravetz) Kuzio received a pace maker in July. What was to have been a 23-hour hospital stay stretched to more than a week. Her pace maker was malfunctioning so they had to re-do and re-program it. Some of the blood vessels did not seal up the second time around, so she had to go back into the operating room a third time to alleviate a hematoma. She is feeling much better now.
In early June, Joe and Barbara (Upton) Oravetz and family moved to Stavanger, Norway. Joe is a Geophysical Advisor for Mobil Exploration Norway, Inc., doing exploration-related jobs (mapping, interpreting and acquiring seismic data, integrating wells, etc.). He has three areas of responsibility in the Barents Sea in the north near Russia, working with other Mobil groups from England, Germany, and the U.S., as well as with various Norwegian companies and government agencies. Joe is the son of Rudolph and Veronica (Keblesh) Oravetz, and grandson of Joseph and Mary (Lelak) Oravetz. Joe and Barb were able to be at last year's reunion to get re-acquainted with family and show off their three children, Hayley, Nicolas, and Alexandra. They report that they are greatly enjoying life in the far north of Europe.
Jean Fleshman, older daughter of Duane and Kathrine (Rebar) Fleshman, will be attending Graduate School at the University of New England, Biddeford, Maine, beginning with the Fall semester. Jean will be working toward a Master's degree in social work, concentrating in the areas of spousal abuse and juvenile delinquents. Her younger sister, Karen, is attending Graduate School at the University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore, working toward a Master's degree in Genetic Counseling. Karen has completed her first year of studies and is working as a summer intern in a York, Pennsylvania, hospital. She and Mike Stebner, from New Jersey, plan to tie the knot next July. Congratulations to both Jean and Karen, and good luck to them in their studies.
Stephen Kohute Jr., son of Stephen Kohute and grandson of David and Marlene (Rebar) Kohute, received the Presidential Award from his 6th grade class.
Melissa Harchak, daughter of Bill and Sandy Harchak (Osceola Mills) and granddaughter of David and Marlene (Rebar) Kohute, received the Higher Medal of learning from her 2nd grade class. She also received various other Honor student awards.Mary Pollock, daughter of James and Carolyn (Young) Rebar, moved to Lenox, Massachusetts, last Fall where she continues to teach ice skating while working as a Customer Service Representative at Sheffield Pottery. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Maryland and plans to move next year to New Bedford, Massachusetts, to pursue a Master of Science degree in Ceramic Arts.
Frank Rebar, though retired from NASA for several years, recently had two of his projects in the Space Shuttle cargo bay at the same time. Frank was Chief Engineer for the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS) on board the Hubble Space Telescope. The GHRS was replaced in February this year by Shuttle astronauts with another of Frank's projects (he was Technical Officer), the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), which can gather data 30 times faster than the device it replaced. At one point during the swap, both of units were in the Shuttle cargo bay, side-by-side! Our family is very proud of Frank and of his many accomplishments while at NASA.
Carolyn (Young) Rebar (at left with Marlene (Rebar) Kohute) teaches piano lessons part-time. Her students presented a recital in May and two of her students received high honors in Spring high school competition this year.
Jim Rebar is a volunteer at the Family History Center of the LDS Church (Mormon) in Columbia, MD, where he assists people with their research and actively pursues a greater understanding of family history research methodology.
(The following article is Copyrighted by the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, 125 Westland Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15217)
The Carpatho-Rusyns are a small East Slavic ethnic group indigenous to the Carpathian Mountain Region of Eastern Europe. Because their homeland roughly spans the western part of the Carpathian Mountain range, that homeland currently falls within the bo rders of several East European nations.
Most of the territory of the Carpatho-Rusyns was, for much of their history, entirely within the borders of Hungary. When the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved at the close of World War I, the majority of Carpatho-Rusyn territory became an autonomous part of Czechoslovakia, making Rusyns one of the three founding peoples of Czechoslovakia (along with Czechs and Slovaks). The Rusyns of Austrian Galicia were incorporated into the new Polish state, with minorities of Rusyns living in northern Romania, the new Yugoslavia and the smaller Hungary.
By the close of World War II, the Rusyn territories had been again divided, this time with the largest Rusyn territory, Transcarpathia, invaded by Soviet troops and incorporated as an oblast in the Ukrainian SSR. The Lemko Rusyns of Poland were forcibly relocated by the communist Polish government to western Poland and their properties occupied by Poles. In Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Soviet Ukraine, the official government Policy became one of ethnocide, in which Carpatho-Rusyns were not permitted to exist as a group but recognized only by these communist governments as Ukrainians.
With the fall of communism in the late 1980s, Carpatho-Rusyns have experienced a renaissance of their language and culture. Today, the Carpatho-Rusyns are recognized by the Czech, Slovak, Polish, Hungarian and Yugoslav governments as a distinct people. These Carpatho-Rusyns have begun to publish books, periodicals and other materials in their native language, have begun codifying that language, are conducting theatrical performances in these dialects and sponsor their own performing ensembles.
On Dec. 1, 1991, the Carpatho-Rusyns of Transcarpathia in now-independent Ukraine voted overwhelmingly for autonomy within the new Ukrainian state.
Today, Carpatho-Rusyn territory falls within the borders of Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary and Rumania, with large immigrant populations of Carpatho-Rusyns in Srem, Croatia; Vojvodina, (Serbia) Yugoslavia; Canada and the United States.
About 700,000 Americans are of Carpatho-Rusyn descent, with the largest concentration of these people (about 50,000) in western Pennsylvania. Other large Carpatho-Rusyn American settlements include New York City/north New Jersey; Connecticut; Cleveland, Ohio area; greater Chicago; and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (PA).
You can find out more about Carpatho-Rusyn heritage by writing to the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, 125 Westland Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15217, (412) 625-9149.
The Search for my Rusyn Roots
Quite some time ago, I realized that my family tree was a little lopsided. Jim Rebar had done a tremendous amount of work on Mom's side of the family, but my dad's side had very few branches. About one year ago, I decided to do something about it. Since there was very little recorded information, a logical first step was to record what I knew (not much). Undaunted, I interrogated relatives to find out what they knew (not much).
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