by Becky Van Fleet
There’s no place like home. No, I’m not writing about Dorothy. I am writing about my paternal grandfather, Taras William Troyanenkov. I am writing about a man of many homes, a man of honor, perseverance, and a family man. I never knew my Grandpa Troyan. He passed away a year after I was born. But his legacy lingers.
The first home he knew was in Kiev, Ukraine. Taras and his family became engulfed in fear as Ukraine endured chaos, revolution, and international and civil war with factions competing for power in the early 1900’s. Coming from a big family during these tough times, he and most of his siblings migrated to the United States, only to be confronted with WWI.
Enter Camp Custer, Michigan. Taras found his next home in the 368th Bakery Company to serve his new country in WWI.
After the war, happier times came when he moved to Mayfield, Pennsylvania where he met his beautiful Polish wife, my grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Holeva.
Taking his new bride to Hamtramck, Michigan about 1923, he decided to pursue his baking skills. He remembered his parents’ business skills in the old country. They ran a hotel in Vladistovak where his father, Vasil, would travel to Japan to make purchases for it. Additionally, his parents raised and bred horses for the Cassach Army. Applying these basic business skills that had been passed down to him from his parents, Taras bought property and opened two bakeries at his new residence, a Slavic community.
Raising a family of three boys, playing the violin, writing music for the Detroit Symphony, and keeping up with his bakeries, Taras settled into his new home in Hamtramck. That is, until the Depression hit. And it hit this family hard. He lost his bakeries and desperation set in.
With courage and perseverance, Taras moved his young family to California in 1932 where he found more homes in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Eureka, and Finley. He opened more bakeries and raised his sons to work hard and to love their country. He was known as a man of honor, who never gave up, and made the necessary sacrifices to persevere no matter where his homes were physically located.
Taras and Elizabeth raised their three boys with the same values. All three fought in WWII and passed on their standards of hard work and love of country. Taras Troyan’s third son, Walter, is my father. In my own home today, my husband and I continue to share our family legacies. There is really no place like home where we can instill our faith, love, and values to the next generation.