April 4, 1953 March 29, 1998
Mother, wife, sister, aunt ...
She lights up our lives.
She lights up our lives.
A Wonderful Life
New York, May 17, 1998
Mourners gathered today at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan to share a fond farewell to Kvitka Cisyk Rakowicz who succumbed to cancer on March 29, 1998. Kvitka, whose name means "flower" in Ukrainian, is well known in the Ukrainian Diaspora and in Ukraine for her contemporary interpretation of traditional folk songs, and she had an active professional career as a singer in various commercial ventures. The service was attended by her immediate and extended family, and by some 200 friends and acquaintances who wished to pay their respects to this much-loved and cherished wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, singer and musician.
As the congregation assembled for the service, the haunting melodies of Kvitka's songs gently echoed about the vaulted ceilings of the landmark Park Avenue Church. The service was a collage of memories, hopes, joys, and sorrows expressed by several of Kvitka's closest friends thoughts expressed in words, in song, and in music shared with those who had come to remember her. Her uncle, Wasyl Lew, led the memorial service with a prayer in Ukrainian, "the first language Kvitka ever spoke." He spoke of the profound influence that Kvitka's innovative musicianship had on the development of contemporary Ukrainian music both in the Diaspora and in Ukraine itself.
A close friend, Ula Ilnytsky, recalled the happy carefree days of adolescence with Kvitka, and how her musical inclination was evident very early on. She recounted moments of mutual comfort that each offered the other, and how in a moment of reflection not long ago, Kvitka declared to Ula that her illness did not take away from her happiness "I've had a wonderful life," Kvitka confided in her dear friend just three short months ago.
Others spoke about Kvitka's great talent, professionalism, loyalty, generosity of spirit, and genuinely caring heart. Her husband, Ed Rakowicz, was frequently described as an exceptionally devoted husband who stood by Kvitka throughout the ordeal of her illness, never for a moment wavering in his protective role. The heart of every person present was deeply touched by the story of Kvitka playing a game she called "Can You Feel Me" with her 7-year-old son, Eddie. They started by touching back to back, "Can you feel me?" Kvitka asked Eddie then Kvitka inched away and asked again, "Can you feel me?". They continued the interplay until Eddie "felt" her presence even after his mother had reached the other room. Ms. Ginny Redington performed a song she recently wrote to commemorate the game.
One of Kvitka's associates and close friend, Vivian Cherry, led a chorus of about 30 in a moving and spirited rendition of Amazing Grace. Later, the Ukrainian choir, Dumka, sang Vichnaya Pamiat, the traditional Ukrainian memorial farewell.
Afterwards, the beautifully melodic Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 2 by Brahms filled the church, played by Kvitka's sister, Maria Cisyk. The music called up distant memories of the Cisyk family members during lessons at the Muzychniy Instytut (Music Institute) when their father, Wolodymyr Cisyk, directed while Maria played the grand piano and Kvitka's bow glided with ease along the strings of the skrypka (violin). Maria recalled tender moments of their life as children at home with their parents, and spoke of the emphasis that was placed on serdechnist (affection) in approaching their craft and in relationships.
With the congregation standing, having celebrated and commemorated the extraordinary contributions and wonderful life of Kvitka Cisyk, the service closed with one of her most memorable recordings Zhuravli (The Cranes).
Hanya Krill, BRAMA, Inc.
Contributions to a perpetual musical endowment fund
in honor of Kacey (Kvitka) can be made to:
Kacey Cisyk Rakowicz Memorial Fund
in support of the music program
at the Rudolph Steiner School
All gifts are fully tax deductible.
Checks should be made out to:
New York Steiner School Foundation
Questions about the fund may be addressed to: