Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Vovnyanko, 81, journalist and historian, passed away at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska, on September 30, 2013.
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Aleksandra was born June 11, 1932 in Nalchik, Russia, to Aleksandr Starchenko, agriculturist, and Matryona Vovnyanko, soil scientist, and grew up in Krasnodar, Russia.
During World War II Aleksandra and her family were evacuated to Azerbaijan. There Aleksandra learned to speak fluent Azerbaijanian and fell in love with the Caucasus Mountains.
After the war Aleksandra returned to Krasnodar. In high school Aleksandra showed a remarkable writer's talent and absolute literacy. She continued her education at the Moscow State University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism.
During 30 years of work in Moscow newspapers and magazines Aleksandra prepared hundreds of editorials and feature articles and conducted numerous interviews and journalistic investigations. While on one of her assignments Aleksandra met Girgoriy Solovjov, journalist, who became her husband.
In the mid-1980s Aleksanda got interested in the history of Russian America. For many years she conducted research in Moscow and St. Petersburg archives and libraries collecting piece by piece the information on the early history of Russian exploration of Alaska and establishment of first settlements. The results of her research were published in many Russian and American scholarly magazines.
In 1996 Aleksandra moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where she continued writing and studying while helping to raise her two grandchildren. The culmination of Aleksandra's research was the publication of The Fur Rush, significant volume on the early period of Russian presence in Alaska.
Aleksandra loved her family and was the happiest when surrounded by them. She asked very little for herself and gave it all to her family. Her grandchildren's laughter and achievements brought her the most pleasure. She spent countless hours educating her grandchildren and exploring the world with them. Aleksandra taught her grandchildren Russian language, love for art and nature, and positive outlook on life.
She will always be remembered and missed by her daughter, Katya Wessels; and her grandchildren Sasha and Luba Wessels. Please remember her when you look at her beloved Chugach Mountains.
Published in Alaska Dispatch News from Oct. 27 to Oct. 28, 2013