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In Memory of Walentyn Polywko 1930 - 2018

23 Jul 2018 3:03 PM | Deleted user

In Memory of

Walentyn Polywko

1930 - 2018

Walyntyn Polywko served in the US Navy, was admitted to practice law in New York, he was elected President of the now Ukrainian National Federal Credit Union, he was elected as a Vice President of the World Congress of Ukrainian Lawyers and served in the leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Volodymyr in NYC. He passed away on Sunday morning July 15, 2018 leaving behind his wife Irene, 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren.

His accomplishments listed above do not do justice to one of the most interesting men I have ever met, or will ever meet. Indeed, he was a quiet legend.

Val was just as comfortable dealing with presidents, princesses and fashion icons as he was with working class people. While serving in the US Navy as a medical corpsman, he perform a circumcision on a baby boy while Princess Grace of Monaco was present during a tour of the aircraft carrier Forrestal.

When skiing in the south of France he shared a long chair lift ride with a stranger and had a nice conversation. That evening the stranger sent a bottle of Dom Pérignon to Val’s table. When the waiter was asked who the stranger was, the garçon answered: “That is Yves Saint Laurent!”

In 1964 Val was admitted to the bar when there were very few Russian speaking attorneys in New York, even fewer who could speak Ukrainian. Val was fluent in both languages and he soon had a near monopoly the growing population of émigres from the Soviet Union. From Ukrainian credit unions to the diamond district in Manhattan and the restaurants of Brighton Beach, everybody knew and used Val as their lawyer.

Whether drinking toasts with Ukrainian Presidents or world known celebrities, Val was always smooth and elegant. That is why he was lovingly nick-named by KGB agents stationed in New York as “Don Valentino.” He was a long time member of UABA and a mentor to many of us, not necessarily on how to be a good lawyer, but how to savor life.

Peter Piddoubny, Astoria, NY


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