Trust the Torch!

Victor Nicholiavich Meuch, 76

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Victor Nicholiavich Meuch, 76, went to be with his Redeemer and Lord on Feb. 7, 2022, in a one-vehicle accident. He was born on May 23,1945, in a Nazi forced-labor camp in Mitterteich, Germany, to Nicholai and Eufrosyna (Ichenko) Meuch, displaced Ukrainian nationals.

In January 1951, his family immigrated to the U.S. He graduated from Greenville College with a B.A. in art and from Northern Illinois University with an M.S. in art education with a concentration in art history. After these degrees, he continued coursework to earn an additional teaching endorsement and was a lifelong learner, attending workshops and seminars, eager to improve his skills and learn new and varied ones.

He married his high school sweetheart, Beverly Zajicek, in 1968 and together they visited 50 countries on six continents and many states. He planned all the travel without the aid of arranged tours. This method led to many unusual experiences in out-of-the-way places. Speaking five languages in his early adulthood, he was able to navigate easily in several countries.

Victor spent most of his professional career as a classroom art teacher, spanning grades 1 to 12. At McHenry County College and the College of Lake County, he taught art history and photography. His standards were high, but he was respected for that and was liked for his easy-going, friendly manner and his humor. His approach to all things in life was creative. When teaching about the Renaissance, he dressed appropriately and taught in the persona of Leonardo Da Vinci. He finished his working years as the studio manager for Comcast, teaching classes on video production for public access programming.

Always interested in new endeavors, he also did freelance photography, video, and commercial art, rendering the current McHenry County flag. For several years, he judged the 4-H photography competition at the McHenry County Fair and sat on the committee for the early art fairs on the Woodstock Square. He was the ski club sponsor at Marian Central Catholic High School and for the city of Woodstock recreation department. He learned to drive a school bus, had a route for 10 years, and drove his college students to the Art Institute of Chicago to personally tour them through the galleries.

He appeared as the obstetrician in “Never Too Late” on the Woodstock Opera House stage. During the curtain call, unscripted and in surgical garb, he laid a swaddled baby doll into the arms of the “late-in-life” mother, to the surprise of the actors and the laughter of the audience.

At age 17, he came to know Jesus as his Savior at a service at Moody Church in Chicago. This experience was the foundation for many of his later activities. In 1985, he smuggled a suitcase full of Bibles into Russia by distracting the luggage examiner with an offer of Alka Seltzer for her headache as his bag passed through on the conveyer belt without a glance.

Following the fall of communism, he founded the Interdenominational Christian Youth Council, which took U.S. teens to Russia for 10 days to explain the gospel in English-teaching schools, gift Bibles there, and to distribute literature and engage in conversation with Russians in the airports, train stations, and public squares. In the Ukraine, the council was joined by a Ukrainian youth group that experienced street evangelism for the first time, expressing gratitude for being trained in an activity that had been forbidden to them under communism.

After two trips of the Youth Council, Victor saw a need for a new approach. He then placed seven former Soviet students in christians’ homes in Illinois for a year-long high school exchange program and arranged for two Illinois students to teach “English through Evangelism” after school to interested residents in Chelyabinsk, Russia, for a semester. In addition, he assisted several U.S. teens to make mission trips with Little Lambs Ministries in Ukraine and produced a video to highlight the work of Little Lambs.

Victor had an interest in young people preparing for adulthood. He was a gentle mentor, usually advocating for additional education or training and supporting that advice on several occasions with tuition payments.

One mark of Victor’s personality was his jovial, joking way. In dealing with anyone – store clerks, phone agents, fast food order-takers, he found a way to bring laughter into the transaction. Clerks thoroughly enjoyed his banter and responded in kind. He had a quick and clever wit and could pick up an opportunity in a mundane conversation to inject humor. There was always laughter in any group of which he was a part.

Creativity blossomed in everything Victor did. Whether he was assembling and decorating a layered sandwich loaf, creating a rebus message, constructing a 3-D birthday card, editing video, manipulating imagery in the dark room, or solving a construction problem, his ideas were fresh and unique, and the outcomes were beyond the ordinary. In every endeavor, he gave maximum effort and did not stop with less than his best. He never encountered a problem he couldn’t solve through persistence and creativity, not shunning the frustration of learning from trial and error.

In retirement, Victor always had a project or goal ahead of him. He ventured into new areas like carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work. He roofed and sided a garage. He installed three wood floors and built a Murphy bed flanked by bookshelves. He painted scenery and constructed moving, motorized props for vacation Bible school. In the kitchen, he began making fancy desserts from scratch, but he never neglected his original soup dishes or his perfected Ukrainian red borsht. He ground meats and made sausage. He tried his hand at yogurt and kefir-making. He raised chickens and pampered his vegetable garden.

Victor Meuch was a man for all seasons, a man extraordinaire.

Victor was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Anatole, Leonid (late Vera), and Leon. He is survived by his wife, Beverly Meuch, and sister, Alla Grzymski (late

Tom); sisters-in-law, Gayle Meuch and Ellen Meuch; six nephews; five nieces; one great-nephew; five great-nieces; and four great-greats.

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