March 6, 1922 - September 19, 2020
Elizabeth was born in Zalantun, Mongolia, March 6, 1922. At that time Mongolia was part of China. Her parents, Piotr and Nadejda, were Russians who operated a concession on the Chinese railroad linked to the famous Trans-Siberian Railroad. When Elizabeth was still young, the family moved to Harbin, an important transportation and industrial city in northern China.
Nadezhda encouraged Elizabeth to enroll in a business administration program offered by North Manchurian University. Upon graduation she went to work in a confectionary store. She was attractive, popular and attended a variety of social activities. At one she met John Zadorojny, an engineer overseeing the construction of irrigation works in China and Mongolia. The couple married in 1942 in Tientsin, China. On March 18, 1943, their daughter, Irene, was born. And on March 2, 1947 their son, Constantin joined the family.
When the communist insurgents took control of China in 1948, John, Elizabeth and their children were forced to emigrate. Their destination became Argentina. The family traveled by ship to San Francisco, by train to New York, and then boarded a ship to South America. Other Russians in China emigrated to Australia, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, and the United States.
June 8, 1948 the family arrived in Buenos Aires, the cosmopolitan capital of Argentina. Thanks to his engineering credentials, John Zadorojny was soon hired to oversee a variety of engineering projects in the rapidly developing Patagonia. These included schools, dams, and transportation systems. In some cases, he served as architect, engineer, and business manager.
The family made their home in Comodoro Rivadavia, the oil capital of the country. Elizabeth quickly learned Spanish and then enrolled in the Red Cross nursing program. When she graduated as a registered nurse, she was hired to work in a local hospital. Soon her mother, Nadejda, joined the family and provided valuable support and affection for everyone in the household.
After the family lived several years in Argentina its president, Juan Domingo Peron, was overthrown in 1955 and political uncertainty rocked the country. Unstable civilian governments and concern about their children's future led the family once more to emigrate, this time to the United States. Soon John sailed on a Japanese cargo ship with Irene and Constantin, while Elizabeth was forced to stay behind to care for her ailing mother.
When the three global travelers arrived, they stopped in San Francisco to visit relatives and later, continued north to Seattle. Irene enrolled in Ballard High School and her brother, in middle school. John worked as an engineer on several University of Washington projects, downtown high rises, the Seattle Opera House, and the SEATAC Airport, to name a few.
A month later Elizabeth joined the family. She brushed up on her English, validated her nursing credentials, and proceeded to work as an RN in various Seattle hospitals and clinics.
Years later, after retiring from nursing, she began to work as a medical interpreter. When the Russian consulate in Seattle put on the cultural and historical exhibition, The Treasures of the Kremlin, she acted as an official interpreter. As Russian interest in Boeing, Microsoft, and other high-tech firms in Seattle grew, she again was called upon for her linguistic skills.
Elizabeth's daughter, Irene, and son, Constantin, both married and later she became a grandmother. Eventually she was rewarded with two granddaughters and five grandsons. Over time all graduated from college, married, and in turn gave her four great granddaughters. The most recent news is that another great grandchild is on the way.
The last years of her life were spent in Coral Springs Residential Care in Salem. Both the management and the care providers were extremely helpful in providing for her health and personal needs. They put on beautiful birthday parties for the family as Elizabeth ascended the ladder of aging to reach her late 90s.
In addition to the Coral Springs staff, special gratitude is due to the staff of the Providence Benedictine Hospice. During her last months, when she suffered numerous health crises these professionals greatly helped her and her family with exemplary, end of life care. She passed away in the evening of September 19. Unaware that Elizabeth died, her grandson’s family came to visit. Her great granddaughter who is in middle school, left her this beautiful note: “Happy heaven day, Babuska”
A final funeral service was held at Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service. Those attending read, "The Burial of the Dead," from The Book of Common Prayer. Only family members could attend due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
That evening Irene shared with her husband the sad, but inspiring poem of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, "¡Qué solos se quedan los muertos!." ("How alone are left the dead!")
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