A FORMER prisoner of war who became a successful businessman has died at the age of 91.
Wasyl Hawryluk was born in Zubrec, a farming region in western Ukraine, as the youngest child of six born to farmer Stefan Hawryluk and his wife Hannah Zavaryn – who was 50 when he was born.
Wasyl had started a veterinary apprenticeship and was also learning to be a blacksmith alongside his brother when the Second World War changed the course of his life forever.
At the age of 22, he was sent off to war before coming to Britain in 1947 after two years as a prisoner of war in Italy.
After arriving in Liverpool by ship, he was transferred to the POW camp in Amisfield, Haddington. It was there in 1948 that he met Daisy, who made deliveries to the camp with her father, a grocer.
In 1956, Wasyl and Daisy were married in St Paul’s and St George’s Episcopal Church in York Place. The couple moved to East Fortune and had four daughters – Hilda, Jacqueline, Stefany and Hannah.
Daisy was described as a “shrewd businesswoman” and the couple set up shop and home off Milton Road, which they kept until 1970.
The family then moved to the Abbey Manse on Station Road in Dunbar and took over the Venezia restaurant in High Street. Wasyl is credited with turning the well-known establishment into the Ocean Chip Shop, which proved even more popular with locals, especially during the summer months.
The family then opened Ocean Dry Cleaners next door. However, in 1979, after it emerged that the famous naturalist John Muir had been born at the address, the family reached an agreement with East Lothian Council to set up a small museum in an upstairs room, before turning the whole building over to the council in 2000.
It is now the popular tourist attraction, the John Muir Birthplace.
Daisy died in January 2011 at the age of 86 following a period of ill health.
Sophia Chisholm, Wasyl’s granddaughter, said: “He was known as a quiet, demure character. He was, however, a very determined man, with ever-higher self expectation and expectations for all the family to strive for success in all their endeavours – encouraging his good morals and values, enjoying his life with his wife and his family and meeting new friends and customers, forging bonds to last for 60-plus years as he retired into the community.”
Surrounded by friends and family, Wasyl died at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on February 16.