Walter Zacharchuk (Uncle Walter) 10.1.1930 – 1.11.2023
Walter, age 92, passed away peacefully January 11th at his home in Littleton, Colorado. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle, godfather, and friend. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Anton and Maria Zacharchuk, and his sister, Nina Siwolop. He is survived by his wife, Janina; daughters: Tanya St. John (Steve), Nina Mehring, and Sonya Gruszczynski (Troy) and seven grandchildren: Charles, Maria, Austin (Allie), Zeb, Audrey, Marley, and Ian.
His charismatic social ways, his work ethic, perseverance, and appreciation of life in America are inspiring. He survived poverty and famine in a small village in Ukraine, then a slave labor camp in Buchenwald Concentration Camp/Germany, and 3 years in a DP/refugee camp where he acquired skills in fixing watches/jewelry, carpentry, and other trades. When Walter was 17, his family received sponsorship and they immigrated to the U.S. where they could have better life. He joined the Army and was deployed to the German border as a constabulary (military police force) for occupational and defensive forces post-WWII because he knew 7 languages. After an Honorable Discharge from the Army (a family hardship), he continued his military services in the National Guard during the Korean War. He moved to New Jersey, met his wife of 60+ years, and started a family. They moved to Arizona, where he established himself as a jeweler, and together raised their 3 daughters. They traveled the US in a 60’s VW van, they took them camping, fishing, waterskiing, snow skiing in the AZ mountains and southern Colorado, swimming in Rocky Point, Mexico, and visited relatives in NJ and California. With only an elementary school education, he helped pay for their daughters’ college educations, weddings, and more. He was a gifted, exceptional businessman, had ‘street smarts,’ and always was negotiating. He valued the importance of establishing strong relationships both professionally and personally. He was not shy in the least - everyone loved “UNCLE WALTER"!
Family was the most important aspect of our dad’s life. He highly valued his Ukrainian and European heritage. In the summer of 1978, he took his family to Poland to meet Janina’s family/relatives and to Ukraine to meet his relatives, which instilled how great America was to grow up in.
He was a wonderful grandfather to seven grandchildren. Walter and Janina moved to Colorado 27 years ago, to be closer to the grandkids and they visited Maui often to see the other grandkids. He and Janina participated in their grandchildren’s lives by taking them fishing, camping, and attending most sporting/music/extracurricular events, first communions, confirmations, graduations, and birthdays. He would give them a "shiner" (gold dollar coin) each time he attended an event and these coins will always remind them of him.
He led a very full life. He endured the horrors of WWII, DP camp, and he started life in America from nothing. He raised a family, owned his own cars and homes, and was able to spend his retirement years with grandchildren. He lived the true American dream. He overcame cancer in 2021. Through years of slow, short-term memory loss, with the love, guidance, and care from his wife, he still knew family and friends and enjoyed every day in the moment. One of the last joys of his life was to attend and dance at his grandson’s wedding, Austin and Allie Gruszczynski, in October 2022!
Anyone who knew Uncle Walter, will remember him with a smile, his generosity, and his insistence in trying a shot of his famous homemade slivovitz exclaiming "NAZDROVIA!” He was often heard declaring his favorite saying "GOD BLESS AMERICA!”
Rest in peace “Vladek,” “Tato,” “Didush,” “Uncle Walter.” You impacted many people in your life in many ways, and you were loved by so many. You were a blessing to your family and grandchildren. You will be missed dearly, but your legacy and heritage will live on!
Funeral service will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023 at 11:00 AM at Drinkwine Family Chapel. A reception will follow at Drinkwine Reception Hall with Committal to be held at 2:15 PM at Ft. Logan National Cemetery.
***The family requests, in lieu of flowers, to honor Walter's heritage and birth country and to provide protection, humanitarian and emergency assistance DIRECTLY to families/relief organizations in Ukraine, to please donate to Razom (It means "together' in Ukrainian) in Walter's name (email@example.com). With love and blessings.