Olia de Nesnera (née Donn) age 93 of Pompton Lakes on Sunday July 25, 2010 at home. Her passing was quiet and peaceful and a welcome rest after a long and gracious life journey.
She was born in Helsinki, Finland on June 1st, 1917 to a family who found great comfort in their devotion to the Russian Orthodox faith. Her father was a naval officer in the Imperial Russian Navy stationed in Finland which was part of the Russian empire at that time.
When the Russian Revolution broke out and the Bolsheviks started wielding power it became a very threatening problem for many Russian citizens of any stature which included military officers and their families. After fleeing the Revolution and following a circuitous route, the Donn family found themselves in France. Olia was only four years old at that time. She grew up in France and lived through WW II and the German occupation.
She met her husband, Peter de Nesnera, in central Europe, when she was hired by his Hungarian parents as his French tutor. Peter's parents educated their two children via what we call in this day “home schooling”. Peter grew up speaking 6 languages (he learned 2 others as an adult), and to learn them all, his family would bring young au pairs skilled in these languages to live with the family and speak their native language to the children. Olia spoke French to Peter and his sister, and in turn she learned both German and English. They first met when Peter was 15 and Olia was 17.
Speaking 4 languages (French, Russian, German and English) came in very handy, as she was hired at the end of WWII as a document translator at the Nuremberg Trials working for the American Military.
She married Peter de Nesnera in 1948 in Paris. Wanting a better life together and for their children, they applied for a Visa to the United States. They had a five year wait but finally came to America in 1953 with their first child, son André in tow, eventually settling in New York City.
Son Alexander was born in 1957 and daughter Liz was born in 1964.
Olia lived with her family in New York City where she raised her children and worked first as an interpreter and then for many years as the Librarian at the French Embassy Trade Office (before the advent of computers!) She spent summers and weekends with her family in Ulster County, NY. Initially they lived in a Cabin with no indoor plumbing – she didn’t mind!
She suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke in 1994 which left her wheelchair bound. She and Peter ultimately moved in with their daughter Liz and son-in-law Brian in Pompton Lakes, where she resided until her death. While in Pompton Lakes Olia was cared for not only by her family, but also lovingly by her aide of thirteen years, Patricia Reynolds.
Some things that were never missing in Olia’s home: Icons in every room, a bottle of chilling Russian vodka in the freezer to celebrate special occasions and enough notepaper and cards to give Hallmark a run for its money! She was an avid gardener and an enthusiastic letter writer.
Olia is survived by her brother Rostislaw Donn of Paris, France; son André and his wife Ellen of Oak Hill, VA; son Alexander and his wife Susan of Concord, NH; daughter Liz and her husband Brian McCarthy of Pompton Lakes, NJ; her four grandchildren, Peter, Matthew, Timothy and Christopher; and a large and extended family all over the world. She was pre-deceased by her parents Vsevolod and Anna Donn and her husband Peter.
She will be laid to rest next to her husband Peter de Nesnera MD at the Krumville Cemetery in Olive Bridge, New York.
Funeral services will be held Friday, July 30, 2010 at 11am at the Vander May Wayne Colonial Funeral Home, 567 Ratzer Road, Wayne. Friends may visit with the family at the funeral home on Thursday from 4- 8 PM.
Those planning an expression of sympathy in Olia’s memory are asked to consider in lieu of flowers, donations be made to: Saint Gregory the Theologian Orthodox Church, 1500 Route 376, Wappingers Falls, NY 12590-6147 or The National Family Caregivers Association, 10400 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 500, Kensington, MD 20895-3944, http://www.nfcacares.org/join_nfca/donation.cfm