Tuesday, January 8, 2019
For years, a tombstone in a Toronto intrigued visitors, containing the names of four women and in large bold letters: "FRIENDS." After a bit of research and hunting down the living relatives of the women, a reporter was able to track down the truth of the interesting gravesite.
Pauline Chorna, Annie Hrynchak, Anna Baran, and Nellie Handiak shared many things in life, as they all immigrated from a heavily communist area of Europe and settled into Canada. Though the particulars of the beginning of their friendship are shadowed in mystery, the women enjoyed the Carpatho-Russian cultural center and all shared a love of playing cards.
In the 1960s, the women decided they would all be buried together within one cemetery plot. Handiak purchased the plot in 1968 and requested that the women be buried side by side - not stacked on top of each other. Chorna passed away first in 1977 and was laid to rest in the plot, along with the FRIENDS tombstone. Hrynchak died in 1993 and Baran was quick behind her in 1996. Hrynchak waited 10 years to join her friends, and her daughter states her mother was very "lonely" during that time. When she was buried in the shared plot, she was buried with a deck of cards.
See Opheli Garcia Lawler, Four Best Friends Decided to Share a Tombstone, The Cut, January 7, 2019.
Special thanks to Molly Neace for bringing this article to my attention.