Ukrainian Second World War refugee living in Kirkcaldy celebrates 100th birthday
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Walter Rymaruk, of Otterston Place, celebrated his centenary on Thursday, February 8. He was visited by Cllr Carol Lindsay, who presented flowers on behalf of Fife Council and Col Jim Kinloch, Deputy Lieutenant, representing the Fife Lieutenancy.
Born in a small village near Lviv in Western Ukraine, Walter grew up on a small family farm along with four brothers and a sister. His tough but happy life was turned upside down with the German invasion in 1939, and he was forcibly transported in 1942 to live in labour camps, and work in factories in Dusseldorf. He would never see his family again.
In 1947, he was granted refugee status and sent to a displaced persons’ camp in Lauder, working as a cook. He was offered a job in Anthony’s Hotel in Kirkcaldy starting on Hogmanay 1952.
Walter remembers: “I had to go to Woodward’s on the High Street to buy a suit and bow tie and started right away in the bar for the New Year dinner dance. Chic Murray was the after dinner act.”
Such was his expertise, he served the Queen as head wine waiter at the banquet held in the Town Hall for her visit in 1958. Whilst working at Anthony’s, Walter met Vicky and they married a year later and had a son, Michael, and a daughter, Natalie.
Walter later became an engineer at Melville Brodie’s, then Leon Turning Mills. In an amazing coincidence a new Polish workmate stated that he knew one of Walter’s brothers. Contact with his family followed.
Michael said: “We went to Littlewoods on the High Street and bought woollen sweaters to send to the family. For years I wrote to various cousins as pen pals.”
Contact mysteriously stopped in the 1990s, but Walter was delighted to have been in touch.
He worked until retirement in 1989 at Nairn’s. Vicky passed away six years later but he has carried on his usual cheery, positive way. Supported by family and Fife Council, he continues to live in his Council house near Lindores Drive, taking an interest in current affairs and football, particularly Raith Rovers.