Iraida Pushkarev

8/28/2020

Iraida (Legky) Pushkarev, age 88, passed away on August 28, 2020.  Iraida was born in Tartak, Latvia on July 1, 1932.  Her father, John Legky was an Orthodox Priest at a Russian nunnery in Riga.  The nunnery was an oasis of prerevolutionary Russia where Iraida spent her childhood.  She had access to a rich library where she taught herself to read at the age of four.  When the Soviet Union took over Latvia in 1940, the Church was placed under the jurisdiction of Exarch Sergei who became a friend of the family.  When the Germans occupied Latvia, Exarch Sergei formed a mission to help rebuild Orthodoxy in former Soviet territories.  He enlisted volunteers from Russian Clergy in the Baltics and Father John was one of the volunteers who went to Russia.  In 1944, when the time came for Germans to withdraw, they evacuated many of the missionaries to Germany to protect them from Soviet repressions.  This is how Father John with his wife and two daughters ended up in Sudeten region of central Europe in 1945.  In May 1945, the Red Army caught up with the evacuees in Sudeten.  A number of priests were considering returning back to the Baltics but Russian soldiers privately warned them of inevitable repressions and advised them to go further west.  This is how Iraida’s family ended up in UN Refugee Camps in Germany.  Iraida went to high school there.  In the summer of 1949, the family emigrated to the US and settled in the Bronx.  Iraida turned 16 on the boat.  She immediately went to work first as a salad girl at Schrafft’s and eventually became a sales lady at Lord & Taylor.  She was offered the career of a buyer but things turned differently. On the boat to the US, Iraida began writing Russian Poetry.  Her writing was first published in 1952 in the Russian Literary Periodical “The New Review”.  This eventually landed her a job as a correspondent with The Voice of America.  Meanwhile, she took English language courses at Columbia University where she met another exile, this time from Spain, Ramon Vandellos.  They got married and produced two sons, Michael and Dimitri who today work respectively for Microsoft and Apple.  The marriage; however, did not work out and in1963 Iraida moved to Washington, DC. Her series of reports, “Books and People” became quite popular among Voice listeners in the Soviet Union.  She herself went on an exchange program to Moscow 1969.  Eventually, she transferred to become the West Coast Correspondent of VOA and lived several years in Santa Monica.  In 1973, she married Boris Pushkarev who she knew from her days in New York.  In 1974, they moved into a large apartment in NJ overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan.  The apartment became the location for numerous literary get togethers.  At the same time, Iraida continued to work for the VOA while Boris held a position at the Regional Planning Association in NYC.  In 1987, Iraida retired and invested part of her pension in a farmhouse on ten wooded acres in the Adirondack mountains.  The house in North Creek became her favorite residence for the next three decades where she engaged in knitting, gardening and mushrooming.  In 1990 as the collapse of the Soviet Bloc gathered momentum, Boris retired from his Urban Planning work and went to Europe to work as a volunteer for an Anti-Soviet Russian organization.  In March 1992, he was able to move to Moscow and live there until 2010.  Visiting Iraida in the Adirondacks in the summers while she took annual trips to Moscow.   For health reasons, Boris returned to the US after twenty years and he and Iraida had a happy old age together.  Iraida published three collections of poetry, first in Washington, DC in 1968 second in NY in 1999 and the third in Moscow in 2015.  She also published a memoir regarding her father, who as a widower became a Bishop.  Hence the title The Flying Bishop John.  She is survived by her sons Michael and Dimitri, daughter-in-law Gina, three grandsons Paul, Cole, Quinn and two granddaughters Elena and Marisa.  Her sister Galina and her niece and goddaughter Cathy, nephew John, grand nephew Nicholas and grand nieces, Julia, Sarah and Kira.  She is predeceased by her nephew Phil.Iraida (Legky) Pushkarev, age 88, passed away on August 28, 2020.  Iraida was born in Tartak, Latvia on July 1, 1932.  Her father, John Legky was an Orthodox Priest at a Russian nunnery in Riga.  The nunnery was an oasis of prerevolutionary Russia where Iraida spent her childhood.  She had access to a rich library where she taught herself to read at the age of four.  When the Soviet Union took over Latvia in 1940, the Church was placed under the jurisdiction of Exarch Sergei who became a friend of the family.  When the Germans occupied Latvia, Exarch Sergei formed a mission to help rebuild Orthodoxy in former Soviet territories.  He enlisted volunteers from Russian Clergy in the Baltics and Father John was one of the volunteers who went to Russia.  In 1944, when the time came for Germans to withdraw, they evacuated many of the missionaries to Germany to protect them from Soviet repressions.  This is how Father John with his wife and two daughters ended up in Sudeten region of central Europe in 1945.  In May 1945, the Red Army caught up with the evacuees in Sudeten.  A number of priests were considering returning back to the Baltics but Russian soldiers privately warned them of inevitable repressions and advised them to go further west.  This is how Iraida’s family ended up in UN Refugee Camps in Germany.  Iraida went to high school there.  In the summer of 1949, the family emigrated to the US and settled in the Bronx.  Iraida turned 16 on the boat.  She immediately went to work first as a salad girl at Schrafft’s and eventually became a sales lady at Lord & Taylor.  She was offered the career of a buyer but things turned differently. On the boat to the US, Iraida began writing Russian Poetry.  Her writing was first published in 1952 in the Russian Literary Periodical “The New Review”.  This eventually landed her a job as a correspondent with The Voice of America.  Meanwhile, she took English language courses at Columbia University where she met another exile, this time from Spain, Ramon Vandellos.  They got married and produced two sons, Michael and Dimitri who today work respectively for Microsoft and Apple.  The marriage; however, did not work out and in1963 Iraida moved to Washington, DC. Her series of reports, “Books and People” became quite popular among Voice listeners in the Soviet Union.  She herself went on an exchange program to Moscow 1969.  Eventually, she transferred to become the West Coast Correspondent of VOA and lived several years in Santa Monica.  In 1973, she married Boris Pushkarev who she knew from her days in New York.  In 1974, they moved into a large apartment in NJ overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan.  The apartment became the location for numerous literary get togethers.  At the same time, Iraida continued to work for the VOA while Boris held a position at the Regional Planning Association in NYC.  In 1987, Iraida retired and invested part of her pension in a farmhouse on ten wooded acres in the Adirondack mountains.  The house in North Creek became her favorite residence for the next three decades where she engaged in knitting, gardening and mushrooming.  In 1990 as the collapse of the Soviet Bloc gathered momentum, Boris retired from his Urban Planning work and went to Europe to work as a volunteer for an Anti-Soviet Russian organization.  In March 1992, he was able to move to Moscow and live there until 2010.  Visiting Iraida in the Adirondacks in the summers while she took annual trips to Moscow.   For health reasons, Boris returned to the US after twenty years and he and Iraida had a happy old age together.  Iraida published three collections of poetry, first in Washington, DC in 1968 second in NY in 1999 and the third in Moscow in 2015.  She also published a memoir regarding her father, who as a widower became a Bishop.  Hence the title The Flying Bishop John.  She is survived by her sons Michael and Dimitri, daughter-in-law Gina, three grandsons Paul, Cole, Quinn and two granddaughters Elena and Marisa.  Her sister Galina and her niece and goddaughter Cathy, nephew John, grand nephew Nicholas and grand nieces, Julia, Sarah and Kira.  She is predeceased by her nephew Phil.

Leave Your Message

captcha
Please enter characters from the image on a left

Email Condolence Card

Click to send Condolence Card

Share with others