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Stephen Michael Wolownik
Birth: Jul. 22, 1946
Delaware County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: May 18, 2000
Mount Laurel
Burlington County
New Jersey, USA

Stephen M. Wolownik was a pioneer in the Russian and Eastern European music community in the United States. He was a co-founder of the Balalaika and Domra Association of America (

Born in Chester, Pennsylvania to a Ukrainian-American family, Steve grew up with Russian and Ukrainian music. As a child and young adult, he participated in the balalaika orchestra at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Philadelphia under the tutelage of Paul Kauriga of the Kovriga Balalaika Orchestra. He also played balalaika under Philadelphia's Anastasia Karnow.

Steve received a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where he founded the University of Pennsylvania Balalaika Orchestra (commonly known as "PennBO" or "Penn Balalaika Orchestra") in 1964. PennBO was unique in that, with the exception of the Tamburitzans at Pittsburgh's Duquesne University, it was the only university-level music ensemble dedicated solely to Eastern European music.

He later moved to Los Angeles, where he received a master's degree in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. While there, he founded another balalaika group, the Odessa Balalaikas. Later, Steve founded or assisted balalaika orchestras in other parts of the United States, including Atlanta and Maine.

After returning to Philadelphia, Steve received a master's degree in library science from Drexel University, after which he worked as a reference librarian at the Lippincott Library of the Wharton School of Business at the Universty of Pennsylvania. He also co-founded two more balalaika ensembles, The Balalaika Russe and The Gypsy Balalaikas, the members of both of which were from the Philadelphia area. He continued directing the Penn Balalaika Orchestra until its demise in 1996.

Steve later moved to Mount Laurel, New Jersey, where he was the assistant director of the Mount Laurel Public Library until his sudden death in 2000.

He was buried at Lawn Croft Cemetery in Linwood, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of his boyhood home, after a funeral at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox church in Philadelphia.

Steve touched and changed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people with his humor, kindness and hospitality, as well as his love for the music and ethnic traditions of Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe. He was a virtuoso balalaika player and also could play many other instruments of Eastern Europe. He was a frequent attendee at international dance and music events, and owned hundreds of recordings of Eastern European music. He opened the ears and minds of countless people to new horizons of music and dance.

Steve was a friend to many and an enemy to none. He showered his unparallelled hospitality upon everyone from new immigrants to America from distant lands to students and orchestra members living far away from home. His Russian Orthodox Christmas and Easter celebrations were beyond compare.

Steve is and always will be sorely missed by everyone who knew and loved him. His unexpected death left a void in the world which shall never be filled.

Во блаженном успении вечный покой подаждь, Господи, усопшым рабом Твоим, имена, и сотвори им, вечную память.

Lawn Croft Cemetery
Delaware County
Pennsylvania, USA
Created by: Graveguy
Record added: Feb 20, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 10502955
Stephen Michael Wolownik
Added by: Graveguy
Stephen Michael Wolownik
Added by: Graveguy
Stephen Michael Wolownik
Added by: Graveguy
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Miss you Uncle Steve
- Tommy
 Added: Jul. 13, 2010

 Added: Feb. 12, 2006

 Added: Feb. 12, 2006
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