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BROTHER, SISTER REUNITE AFTER 67 YEARS APART

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A brother and sister separated for 67 years by poverty, war and passport problems walked into each other's arms and filled in the lost decades with tears and stories.

"Is that you, Michael?" Mary Syrko said Tuesday night when Michael Semko walked off a bus with his daughter, Theodora.Semko, 74, remarked in Ukrainian how short his 76-year-old sister had become, said Olga Sirko, Mary Syrko's sister-in-law and translator for other relatives at the reunion.

Syrko, who lives in Economy, a Pittsburgh suburb, gave her brother and niece bouquets of flowers and said she planned to treat them to a traditional Ukrainian banquet of pierogies, kielbasa and cabbage.

She last saw her brother in 1927. Michael and another brother, John, who died in Ukraine in 1991, were left behind because their father couldn't afford to take the whole family when he immigrated to work as a coal miner.

Michael Semko actually was born near Allentown the first time his father went to the United States. Though he was a U.S. citizen, he could not return because he lacked a birth certificate and passport.

Michael later was imprisoned by the Germans and drafted by the Soviet Army.

Over the years, Syrko sent several packages of presents to Semko, but most of them came back. World War II and the closed borders of the Soviet Union broke apart many Ukrainian families.

The reunion was arranged after Sirko heard on a weekly Ukrainian-language radio show that Semko was searching for his father's grave. A congressman helped with the travel papers, and a businessman who had read about Semko paid for the trip.

Semko planned to visit the grave of his father, John, who died in 1960.