Neonila C. Sochan (née Merena), 97, of Morristown, NJ, passed peacefully on September 3, 2023. She was born into a Ukrainian family in Stawisza, Poland, on May 13, 1926. Uprooted by World War II, she completed her high school education in the Displaced Persons Camp in Landshut, Germany.
Neonila was one of the founding members of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization’s Pershi Stezhi sorority, established in 1947 in Germany; later, in the US, she was elected to lead the Pershi Stezhi. She was the director in 1952 of the first summer camp held at the Soyuzivka estate in Kerhonkson, NY, purchased that year by the Ukrainian National Association; it was a camp for Plast children. She is a former leader of the Plast branch of Jersey City, NJ, and served as corresponding secretary and later as general secretary in charge of administration and archives at Plast USA.
Neonila was employed in the administration of Svoboda Press, the publishing arm of the Ukrainian National Association (UNA), a fraternal benefit society then based in Jersey City. She held several offices in UNA Branch 287, as well as in the New Jersey District Committee of the UNA. Neonila was active also in Jersey City’s School of Ukrainian Studies, including as its director.
In 1989 Neonila founded and was the organizer/administrator for many years of “Tabir Ptashat,” Plast’s day camp for preschoolers, which is held annually under the aegis of the Pershi Stezhi sorority at Soyuzivka Heritage Center. A staunch supporter of Soyuzivka, she became the first member of the newly established Soyuzivka Heritage Foundation in 2006.
Neonila was a member of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Whippany, NJ, and prior to that of Ss. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Jersey City.
Neonila is pre-deceased by her parents, Wasyl and Maria Demydchuk Merena, and her husband of forty-nine years, Wolodymyr (Walter) Sochan, who passed away in 2001. She is survived by her children, Romana Hadzewycz (Andrew) and Taras Sochan, and grandchildren, Markian and Paul Hadzewycz.
Visiting hours for family will be held on Friday, September 8, 2023, from 9 am to 10 am at Bradley-Braviak Funeral Home, 49 Whippany Rd., Whippany, NJ, followed by visiting hours at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, 60 N. Jefferson Rd., Whippany, from 10 am to 11 am with the funeral service starting at 11 am. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington, NJ.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Neonila’s name may be made to “Scouts for Ukraine,” by mail to Plast Conference Inc., P.O. Box 491, Princeton Junction, NJ 08550 (https://aid.plastusa.org/plast-usa-aid-for-ukraine-scouts-for-ukraine-donate/) or to “Plast Camp-Vovcha Tropa,” by mail to Paul Liteplo, 960C Heritage Hills, Somers, NY 10589-3137 (VENMO:@vovcha-tropa, cell phone digits 3791).
To send the family a condolence, please visit, www.bradleyfuneralhomes.com.
Photo by Christine Syzonenko