Barbara Demidenko, 92, fled takeover of Ukraine

March 06, 2003

Barbara Demidenko, who escaped the Communist takeover of Ukraine and later settled in Baltimore, died yesterday at her Lansdowne home of complications from a fall. She was 92.

Born and raised Barbara Ackerman in Ukraine, she left school at an early age to help her parents, who were farmers. In 1941, she married John Demidenko.

After Communists took control of Ukraine, the young couple fled their homeland in a horse-drawn wagon with their two sons hidden beneath a load of straw. They made their way to Hamburg, Germany, where they lived in a refugee camp until landing at Ellis Island in New York City in 1950.

After working on a New Jersey farm, they moved to Highlandtown in 1951, where they bought and restored rowhouses.

Mr. Demidenko, who was a tool and die maker at American Standard Inc. in East Baltimore, died in 1991.

In 1984, Mrs. Demidenko returned to Hamburg with her family to visit the former refugee camp. She was active in Ukrainian cultural organizations, including the Dnipro Club, a social club, and the Ukrainian Festival.

Mrs. Demidenko enjoyed collecting and refinishing antique furniture, and cooking Ukrainian dishes for family and friends.

She was a member of St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Plans for services were incomplete yesterday.

Survivors include two sons, Walter Demidenko of Lansdowne and Henry Demidenko of Manchester; and three grandchildren. Another son, Wasyl Demidenko, died in 1997.

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