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Fr. Alvian & Helen SmirenskyDecember 10, 2017
Slingerlands-Alvian and Helen Smirensky, residing at the Beverwyck in Slingerlands, NY, died on Sunday morning in adjoining beds at Albany Medical Center within hours of each other. They had been married for 59 years. They are survived by three children: Nicholas Smirensky and his wife Lynn of Delmar, NY; Anna Patka and her husband Carl of Albany, and Maria Smirensky and her partner Richard Van Wie of Stuyvesant, NY. They are also survived by three grandchildren: Isaac Patka and his wife Justine Aloise, of San Diego, CA; Emily Patka and her fiancé Angel Solis of Brooklyn, NY; and Sophie Patka of Albany, NY. Alvian and Helen met and married in New York City while Helen was attending Barnard College and Alvian was attending Saint Vladimir’s Seminary. Their initial home was at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Second Avenue and Second Street, in the East Village. They moved to Meriden Connecticut in 1961, and then Wayne, NJ, followed by Spring Valley, NY, Guilderland NY, and finally to the Beverwyck.
Alvian Smirensky was born on May 11, 1929 in Harbin, China to Sophia and Nicholas Smirensky. He attended elementary school in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. With conflict increasing between Japan and China, Alvian emigrated with his mother, Sophia, in September 1939, where they settled in San Francisco. He graduated from Saint Ignatius High School in San Francisco in 1948 and later from the Merchant Marine Academy. He served as a naval officer in the Korean Conflict from 1951-1954 on the Destroyer USS John A. Bole. He retired from military service with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After service in Korea, he moved to New York City to attended St. Vladimir’s Seminary from 1954-1957; he later completed a second master’s degree at St. Vladimir’s. He was ordained as a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church on September 13, 1958. Father Alvian served in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a chaplain and as a parish priest in a number of locations, including Sts. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church in Meriden, CT; the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Wayne, NJ; Saint Basil’s Orthodox Church in Maplewood, NY; Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in Cohoes, NY; and Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Albany, NY. When Father Alvian retired from parish service, he became attached to the Holy Wisdom Temple, New Skete Monastery. Alvian also served in State government, retiring in 1991 as Director of Information Services for the New York State and Local Retirement Systems.
Helen Smirensky was born on November 3, 1933 in Prague, Czechoslovakia to Michael and Elizabeth Kefeli. She is predeceased by her sister, Lisa. She is survived by her brother, George Kefeli and his wife, Joan, of Thornville, Ohio, and their children Drew Kefeli and Natasha Lattin as well as by her sister Lisa’s children, David Springer of Austin, TX and Eric Springer and his wife Lisa of Melbourne, FL. Helen and her extended family lived in Prague through the German occupation and World War II. They left Prague prior to the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia and lived in a series of displaced persons camps in Germany until November 1949, when, with the sponsorship of the Tolstoy Foundation, she emigrated to the United States with her family and settled in Nyack, NY. Helen received an undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1957 majoring in Russian Regional Studies. Later in life, after many years of working in libraries, Helen completed her Master of Library Science degree in 1985 at SUNY Albany’s School of Library Science. She was a member of the Beta Phi Mu International Library and Information Studies Honor Society. She was employed as a cataloger at SUNY Albany and retired as a senior librarian from the New York State library in 1996. She served as the New York State Library’s representative to the CONSER Operations Committee for a number of years. Helen loved to read and knit afghans for family and friends and for sick and abused children. She knitted more than 160 afghans.
The family would like to extend their deepest appreciation to the staff of the Emergency Department and the ICU at Albany Medical Center for their kindness and compassion in arranging for Helen and Alvian to be together during their last few hours.
The Funeral will begin at 10:00 a.m Wednesday, followed by the Divine Liturgy at 11:00 a.m. at New Skete Monastery, 273 New Skete Lane, Cambridge, NY
Interment will follow in the New Skete Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be in their memory to the National Health Law Program (www.healthlaw.org) or to New Skete Monasteries (www.newskete.org).