Popadia Vera Nicoloff

Popadia Vera Nicoloff, beloved wife and coworker of Protopresbyter George Nicoloff (1906-1997) of the Bulgarian Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America, fell asleep in the Lord on Friday, August 24, 2012.

Popadia Vera was born in Tetovo, Macedonia in 1916 to the Bunev family, known for their patriotism and self-sacrifice under oppressive regimes.  She met her future husband, a young seminarian with a PhD in theology from Vienna and a journalist, in Sofia, Bulgaria, in early 1935, when she had fled persecution in her country. After their marriage in September of the same year, Father George was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood, and they accepted a call to serve Saint Clement Macedonian-Bulgarian Parish in Detroit, MI, arriving on Christmas Eve of 1935. Popadia Vera, not quite 20 years old, formed and directed the choir and continued to do so when, in 1970, she and Father George helped to establish Saint Paul Cathedral, Dearborn Heights, MI.  She was always pleased to note that she had been tutored in directing by both Archpriests Sergei Glagolev and Igor Soroka, both renowned musicians.

With Popadia Vera’s support, Father George was instrumental in working with His Grace, the late Bishop (later Archbishop) Kyrill to bring the Bulgarian Diocese into the Orthodox Church in America.  Father George and Popadia Vera believed firmly in the vision of Father Alexander Schmemann for an autocephalous Church in their adopted American homeland.

Popadia Vera and Father George were tireless missionaries for the Lord, building up the spiritual life of immigrants from Bulgaria and Macedonia. They also helped them find work and housing, learn English, become good citizens, register their children for school, and tend to the many practical tasks of helping new-comers to America.  They never forgot their homeland of Macedonia and worked for her freedom and independence. In addition to working for her parish and Macedonian community, she worked as a enthusiastic volunteer in local hospitals and provided home hospice care. She crocheted at least a thousand afghans which she donated to hospitals, monastic communities, friends, neighbors and many others.

Popadia Vera and Father George raised four children: Nicholas (Elinore); Deacon Clement (Audrey); Boris, an iconographer, choir director and graduate of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary; and Mary Ann Lopoukhine (Nikita).  The delighted in their seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.  All the children and grandchildren serve the Church in choirs, parish councils and other active ministries. Through the 1940s and 50s, she spent many nights alone with the children as Father travelled to Macedonian-Bulgarian communities across the US and Canada to baptize, marry and bury the faithful.  These communities, with Father George’s help, organized parishes, now part of the OCA.

Popadia Vera was a shining example of full partnership with her husband’s mission and love for the Lord. In total faith and as a loving mother, she called on the Mother of God daily for her prayers and intervention with her Beloved Son. She left a legacy of love for her parish, for all who knew her, and for the many who are warmed by her hand-made knit blankets.

Visitation will begin at Saint Paul Cathedral, Dearborn Heights, MI, at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 29. A Panikhida will be celebrated at 7:00 p.m.

Visitation will resume at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, with the celebration of the Funeral Service at 11:00 a.m.

May Popadia Vera’s memory be eternal!