SAN FRANCISCO: January 5, 2021
Elena Borisovna Hruchow passes away
Farewell to a Radiant Soul
The early morning of the first day of 2021 saw the passing of Elena Borisovna Hruchow, a person of exceptional warmth, nobility of soul and lively sense of humor. In addition to her remarkable personal qualities, Elena Borisovna is distinguished by the fact that she was one of the few people who were rather well acquainted with two saints glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Elena Borisovna was born in 1915 in Kiev, the daughter of Prince Boris Andreevich Shakhovskoy. Fleeing from the Bolsheviks, the Shakovskoy family escaped from Russia together with the White Army. Making their way through Constantinople and Gallipoli, they settled in Serbia.
In 1943 Elena Borisovna moved to Munich, where she married into the family of Martyr Alexander Schmorell, spending much time at the Schmorell residence with Alexander’s kindhearted and hospitable family, and with his dearly beloved nanny. She was acquainted with Hegumen Alexander (Lovchii) who visited Alexander in prison, and confessed and communed him on the day of his execution. In his final letter to his parents from prison, Alexander sent Elena Borisovna (under the name “Alyonushka”) his parting greetings. She was present at the martyr’s funeral, which took place in the presence of a small family circle.
Leaving Germany for the United States after the war, Elena Borisovna took with her many memories, both joyous and sorrowful, of her life with the Schmorells. In her California home, she would often receive a welcome visitor, Archbishop John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Elena Borisovna's husband had become acquainted with Vladyka as a boy, when both were living in Serbia. Elena Borisovna recalled that Vladyka treated her husband with touching love, as if he were his own son. When Vladyka visited their city, he would often drop by the couple's home and be treated to lunch.
Having celebrated her 104th birthday in December of 2019, Elena Borisovna succumbed not long after to a severe illness which left her ever weaker and more frail. Several weeks ago she turned 105. Having lived into the early hours of the new year, Elena Borisovna passed peacefully away, taking with her an entire era, and memories of things that are past, long gone and never will return.
May God grant peace to her radiant soul!