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Stefan Ircha, longtime resident of Milanville, Pennsylvania, was called to our Heavenly Father on Saturday, March 2, at the age of 93 years. He passed away in the comfort of his home, having been administered last rites surrounded by his children and grandchildren, and overlooking the Delaware River and nature. At the time of his last breath, red cardinals that had gathered by his window flew away as if to carry him to Heaven.
Stefan was born in Ternopil, Ukraine on August 30, 1925 to Dmytro and Anna Ircha. He survived the Ukrainian Holodomor and Eastern Europe during the turmoil of World War II, and experienced great personal suffering. After the war, from a displaced persons camp and never to see his parents again, he chose to immigrate to New York City where he met his beloved wife, Marie Kruk, of nearly 45 years before her passing. She was the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants. They raised their four children in the Ukrainian neighborhood of lower Manhattan as well as Beach Lake, Pennsylvania in the summers.
By every measure, he was the personification of the American Dream. Upon his arrival in New York, Stefan worked hard and later founded his own building company that specialized in the development of planned communities, notably in Levittown, Pennsylvania and Levittown, New York. Stefan was well-read, self-taught, intelligent, sophisticated, funny, caring, strict, loving and handsome. His skills in the culinary arts delighted his family and friends for many years. He was a Renaissance man who knew how to do everything and solve every problem. You always felt safe in his presence. He strongly believed in education, and he and Marie made sure that their four children were educated at the highest levels of academia at top American universities. He always said, “Books are your friends.”
In retirement, Stefan moved to Milanville, Pennsylvania where he enjoyed outdoor activities, nature and many visits from his family. His children and grandchildren are going to miss sitting on his porch swing with him and observing all the happenings on the Delaware River and throughout Wayne County, Pennsylvania.
In 1994, after a 52-year separation, the result of wars and communism, he was reunited with the help of the International Red Cross with his only sibling, sister Marusha. They had the opportunity to reconnect and spend time together before her passing a few years later.
Stefan is survived by his four children, daughter Marie (Robert Young), grandchildren Marie (deceased), Liana, and Noelle, of Port Washington, New York; daughter Lucille of Manhattan; son Steven (Jane), grandchildren Steven Jr, Sasha, Kirsten, Caroline, and Jane of Bronxville, New York; and daughter Suzanne (Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson IV, currently serving as US Ambassador to the United Kingdom), and grandchildren Brick (Robert Wood Johnson V), and Jack of London and Manhattan. Stefan’s children lovingly called him Tato (dad in Ukrainian), and his grandchildren called him Dido (grandfather in Ukrainian).
After a funeral mass of the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic rite at Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Church in Campbell Hall, New York on March 4, Stefan was laid to rest next to his late wife Marie. May they rest in eternal peace together. Local arrangements by Hessling Funeral Home, Inc.