Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tim Cuprisin
January 14, 1958-November 23, 2011
Vicnija Pamjat.  Eternal Memory.
Tim Cuprisin, president and founding father of the Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society and creator of its blog, passed away Wednesday, November 23 at home.  
At the age of 20, the Chicago native graduated from the University of Central Michigan in 1978. He started his career as a police reporter at Chicago’s City News Bureau then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today before going to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.   Included in his assignments were covering the impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism on six Eastern European countries.  His long-time fascination with television programs led to a daily TV and radio column in the Milwaukee Journal (now the Journal Sentinel).  In 2009, he took his writing talents to OnMilwaukee.com.

On March 13, 2010, Tim met with 15 people from Northwest Indiana, the Greater Chicago area and Wisconsin at the Polish Museum in Chicago to create the Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society.  With his vast knowledge of his Carpatho-Rusyn heritage, Tim was unanimously elected president.  The first event of the new chapter in June 2010 drew 104 people to hear National C-RS President John Righetti’s talk “Who are the Rusyns?”.  According to Righetti, it was a record number for a first-time event held by any of its chapters.  

In the year and a half since that first public meeting, more than 300 people have attended at least one event sponsored by the chapter.  Those events include hosting the author of The Linden and the Oak Mark Wansa for the first celebration of Carpatho-Rusyn Day, newly instituted by the World Council of Rusyns in 2010.  Other undertakings of the organization include a genealogy workshop focusing on Eastern European resources and a pysanky workshop where attendees learned how to turn eggs in works of art using wax, a stylus and dye just as their ancestors had done in “The Old Country”.   Conversations at the Rusyn New Year’s potluck luncheon focused what was or wasn’t on the attendees' Christmas Eve Holy Supper table now or when they were growing up.  Pagach and pirohi were a big hit and quickly disappeared.
Tim's last appearance
Tim’s last public appearance was at the Lake Michigan Chapter’s Carpatho-Rusyn Day luncheon in October which celebrated 100 plus years of Rusyns in Northwest Indiana and recognition of the 100th anniversaries of St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church and Protection of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church.  An avid collector of all things related to his ethnic background, his presentation featured early 20th century photographs of Rusyn immigrant life, the six churches they founded around the tip of Lake Michigan and a Pepsi Cola ad with the sales pitch in Rusyn.  History Professor Jim Lane of Indiana University Northwest and the Northwest Indiana Archives explained what brought the immigrants to northwest Indiana, far from their arrival ports on the east coast.

Tim’s determination to preserve his ethnic identity and his access to media resources led him to create the chapter’s blog which features news about Rusyns here and abroad. The hunger of Carpatho-Rusyns for information about their heritage and what was happening to other Rusyns brought hits from across the globe.  The Lake Michigan Chapter board will continue the blog.
At the time of his death, Tim was also working on a book about Andy Warhol, a world-renowned Rusyn artist, as well as a murder mystery set in Chicago.

Tim is survived by his brothers John, Ken and Dave, a sister Elaine Black and his partner Sharon Boeldt as well as numerous nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents John and Helen (Cordak) Cuprisin and niece Leslie Cuprisin.

A celebration of his life held Saturday, December 3 brought about 200 people to the Schmidt and Bartelt Funeral Home in Mequon, Wisconsin.  Speakers included his brother Ken, Fr. Thomas Mueller of St. Cyrill and Methodius Orthodox Church in Milwaukee, friends Jim Rowan, Andy Tarnoff and Meg Kissinger and his god daughter, Molly Boynton.  Carpatho-Rusyn Society Lake Michigan Chapter members Fr. William Conjelko and Fr. John Lucas closed the memorial with leading the singing of the traditional Rusyn funeral hymn Vicnija Pamjat/Eternal Memory.
Donations to a media scholarship in Tim’s name may be directed to the Hoffman York Foundation, 1000 N. Water St., Suite 1600, Milwaukee, WI, 53202.  Donations in his name may also be made to Mayo Clinic's Melanoma Research Program at www.mayoclinic.org/development or mailed to Department of Development, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St. SW, Rochester, MN 55905.
On January 14, 2012, the Lake Michigan Chapter will pay tribute to its first president at its annual Rusyn New Year Potluck.  Details will be posted on this blog.
(Copied from the Lake Michigan blog with the permission of Charlotte Pribish Conjelko, President of C-RS Lake Michigan Chapter)

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