NP-UN Western Bureau.
One of the most active Ukrainian community and cultural leaders passed away in Edmonton on November 26, 2018, at the age of 58 years.
Born in Edmonton on December 4, 1959, Roman Andrew Brytan leaves behind his loving wife, Suzanna Brytan (nee Sidlar); and his beloved children, Kassandra (25), Emma (13), Lelia (10), Kalyna (9) and Maksym (7). Also left to mourn his passing are his mother, Annie Brytan; sister, Sonia Iszcenko (Kevin); brother, Bohdan (Elenor); niece, Roxanna; and nephew, Xenon. Roman was predeceased by his older sister, Olga; his father, Michael; and his nephew, Jordan Iszcenko.
From the time he was a little boy, Roman shared the gift of his voice, and his passion for his Ukrainian culture, with a quiet elegance and a style that was all his own.
He will best be remembered as the voice of the Ukrainian community across Alberta, as he fulfilled his vocation with CKER Radio 1480-turned 101.7 World FM, from March 1982 until November 2017.
Over these 35 years, Roman’s practice of his calling brought together all parts of the Ukrainian Canadian community, as he was regularly called upon to host and MC so many events – local, provincial, national and international. As a man of beautiful words, with a flawless polish to his stage presence, and yet a shy and selfless character in private, Roman devoted his life to his community and to his family. He always said that his children kept him young, and instilled in them a pride in their heritage, culture and traditions. All five baby Brytans are fiercely proud of the man they knew and loved, as Tato.
“He passed his love of his culture and music on to his children, making sure that they had a thorough knowledge of what was important. After receiving an authentic jukebox for his 50th birthday, his children would always gather around after suppers, for what they called “jukebox time” – a time to spend just enjoying Tato’s treasure trove of music collected over the decades,” said his daughter Kassandra in delivering the eulogy.
“Roman had a huge heart, a generous nature, and a quick sense of humor. He loved to host parties at our home, and to welcome friends from near and far. There was never a need for a reason for a gathering. Roman loved life and life loved Roman in return,” she added.
A broadcaster, song-writer, playwright, poet, lyricist, deejay, movie actor and event producer, Roman was the consummate showman, making sure that any event associated with his name was carried out with the utmost of professionalism and flare. Good was never good enough.
His work was a credit to the Ukrainian community, elevating the efforts of its arts sector beyond its own expectations. His devotion to the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM) was evidenced by the many years he spent as local, and later national, president. Roman was sought after as a keynote speaker on many subjects connected to media and community, and in his later years, he earned the respect of his peers, playing the role of mentor and “elder statesman” to younger generations who sought his counsel.
Throughout his lifetime, Roman won several awards: the Hetman Executive Award in 2007 (the first time that level was presented by UCC-APC), the Shevchenko Medal (UCC National) in 2010, and the Madeleine Ziniak Award for Multiculturalism in Radio award from CEMA in Toronto. He is also listed in the IMDB (International Movie Database) for several roles that he played in a movie series call Sure Shot Dombrowski.
Roman’s wit and easy humour, his appreciation for what he considered a “charmed life,” and his devotion to his family will be sorely missed.
Prayer Services were held on what would have been his 59th birthday, December 4, at Exaltation of the Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church. Divine Liturgy was celebrated the following day at the same church with Very Reverend Don Bodnar officiating. Interment in St. Michael’s Cemetery followed.
At the cemetery, a eulogy from the Bandera Wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists was read out in which Brytan was accorded singular praise for his work in maintaining Ukrainian culture at a time it was repressed in Ukraine.
“He was, and is, an example to all who were born beyond the borders of Ukraine, as to how one can and must serve his or her Fatherland, how to respect the national heroes… and how lifegiving this popular and spiritual root can be for all,” it stated (in translation from Ukrainian).