Anna Simons

Obituary of Anna Simons

When thinking about Anna Simons, about who she was and the life she led, two words come to mind: resilience and family. We read books and tell stories of the trials and tribulations of older generations. We make jokes about them walking to school and back, both uphill and in the snow; in Anna’s case, this was actually her daily commute – and she wouldn’t let you forget it! We try to compare their lives to ours, but in reality, the world they came from and the one we grew up in might as well be night and day. Anna Simons was raised in a world our imagination would have trouble grasping. On February 17th, 1943 in the midst of WWII, Anna was born in Shubkov, Ukraine to Ekaterina and Andrey Stefanko as her mother desperately tried to hide and protect her and her sisters. As a baby, throughout her childhood, and into adolescence, her resilience was constantly tested. A story she would frequently and vividly share was set on the coldest of days. While delivering mail on horseback during a blizzard (one of her first jobs), her horse slipped into an icy ditch. Without hesitation, Anna got waist deep in near freezing water to free the horse and the attached mail, then continued merrily on her way – determined to finish the job. Later, as she handed a parcel to the store owners, they protested and made her change into dry clothes, likely preventing hypothermia and saving her life. At the age of 22 in Odessa, Ukraine, Anna married her first husband, Vasily Yukhymchak with whom she had 3 children – Igor, Zhanna, and Viktor. In 1990, as Zhanna was pregnant with Anna’s first grandchild, Danielle, our matriarch experienced her first of many heart wrenching losses; Vasily suddenly passed away. She continued working hard and endlessly to support her family through the mid-90s until receiving the news that her only daughter's cancer was imminently terminal. Anna packed her bags and fought her way to the US to be with Zhanna and Danielle during those last months. Zhanna’s final wishes were for her to remain in Boston to help raise Danielle; Anna made the hard choice to leave all she knew behind and embark on building a new life. On a beach just north of Boston, Anna found love again, eventually marrying Mario (Emanuel) Simons. The two were quite a pair. Laughter was as plentiful as horseplay in their household, unless of course someone was found cheating at Dominos! Anna’s beloved dog Silva, who immigrated from Ukraine with her, was the self-appointed referee in such clearly serious matters. The three took Danielle everywhere across Boston; riding the Swan Boats and fishing in the local pond were clear favorites that held especially fond memories for all. Unfortunately, hardship continued as a running theme in her life, as Anna lost Mario and later her son, Viktor, in the early to mid-2000s. But Anna endured. She spent the next 15 years lovingly raising her granddaughter, Danielle. She worked 60 hours a week as a CNA giving away every dime she made to support Danielle and family in Ukraine. Her life’s mission was to ease, improve, and lighten the burden for others, especially for family. As COVID came to ravage the world, Anna moved to Charlotte, NC in 2020 to be closer to Danielle and her husband James, who were expecting their first baby girl, Zhanna. Finally forced into retirement by Danielle, Anna spent her Charlotte days tending a prodigious garden, fostering rescue dogs, reading, weaving tales of her life to all who would listen, and reveling in the little but mighty new light in her life, baby Zhanna. Anna passed peacefully on Christmas Morning, having been preceded by the third of her three children, Igor, less than a year earlier. At the age of 79, Anna endured the loss of two husbands (Vasily and Emanuel), two sisters (Maria and Olga), three children (Viktor, Zhanna and Igor) and one grandchild (David). While the scars of these tragedies never left her, neither did the wrinkles from laughing and smiling with her granddaughters (Danielle, Yuliia, and Kristina), their husbands (James and Heirgii), and her great grandchildren (Zhanna and Hlib). In a life full of hardship, Anna never stopped grinning, laughing, or loving. If you ever meet a woman half as strong as Anna, you’ll have met a Titan. A funeral ceremony will be held at 2:30pm, Friday, December 30, 2022, at the Reigning Mother of God Russian Orthodox Church, 5310 Statesville Rd, Charlotte, NC 28269. Interment will be private. Online condolences may be made at
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Funeral Ceremony

2:30 pm
Friday, December 30, 2022
Reigning Mother of God Russian Orthodox Church
5310 Statesville Road
Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
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