Nadia Slack, Guild News, June 1954. For the full photograph, see Study and Craft Guild, bottom. Courtesy of Janet Dudones. Nadia Slack. Courtesy of Janet Dudones. Born: November 11, 1906, in Russia

Died: February 20, 1991

Married: John Slack

Children: John

Nadia Slack came to Saranac Lake as a tuberculosis patient. Almost till the end of her life, she slept out on the sleeping porch of her apartment. She was a White Russian, the daughter of a prominent family that supported the Tsar, and was lucky to escape the country when he was overthrown. After her recovery, she worked at the Guild; an early 1940s photograph shows her instructing tuberculosis patient, Paul Clementi [sic: Cremeti], a Major in the British Army, how to weave. 1 Later she worked as the librarian at the General Hospital of Saranac Lake. She was a member of the Reviewer's club, and she was one of the founding Board members of Historic Saranac Lake when it was incorporated in 1980.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, February 22, 1991

Nadia Slack

TUPPER LAKE — Nadia Slack, 84, formerly of 18 Franklin Avenue, Saranac Lake, died Wednesday, Feb. 20, 1991 at the Mercy Healthcare Center. She was born Nov. 11, 1906 in Russia.

She came to Saranac Lake in 1932 to cure for tuberculosis, and was employed for several years at the Guild. She was later employed as a medical records librarian at the General Hospital of Saranac Lake, where she worked for many years, retiring in 1977.

She was a member of the Saranac Lake Historical Society. Her husband, John, died in 1942.

Survivors include a son, John, of Woodhaven; a brother, Vladimir deKanel, of Larchmont, and several grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

No calling hours or funeral services are scheduled at this time. A graveside service will be held in May in the North Elba Cemetery, Lake Placid.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Luke's Church in care of the Fortune Funeral Home, which is in charge of arrangements.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 17, 1958

REVIEWER'S CLUB

The Reviewer's club met Tuesday evening at the Hotel Alpine with Mrs. John Eisenhauer as hostess.

After the business meeting the members were treated to a full and concise account of the history of the Russian people from the earliest beginnings up to the Soviet regime, by the program chairman Mrs. Nadia Slack. At the close she related many personal experiences, all present had a deeper understanding and compassion for the Russian peoples.


The Guild News, May 1941

CHAOS TO CONTENTMENT

"Shy" is the word that Nadia Slack uses in describing herself. "My work as instructor for the Guild in weaving and other crafts and the number of contacts it has brought me, have helped me to overcome it a little," she says.

That she is only "shy" is a miracle of self-discipline and spinal stiffening. Her childhood and girlhood were spent in as gory and bitter an atmosphere as this century furnishes.

She's an American citizen now. She came from Russia--the Russia of World War I and the Revolution. Families were torn asunder in those days. A little girl separated from father and mother, simply shifted for herself.

Now, happily, she sees her mother once in a while. They came to this country together in 1925. Her father, Dr. deKanel, long a Russian army physician, she never sees. He's somewhere in the Ukraine, doing public health work. He's too valuable a man to have been sacrificed in the Soviet slaughter-house.

Nadia Slack would much rather talk about the three years she cured at Ray Brook, which she says she regards as her real home; about Dr. Harry Bray, the medical superintendent there, who has been her benefactor; and Miss Charlotte Geffken, an occupational therapist, who taught her how to weave.

But the real story starts back in Schleswig-Holstein where Nadia was born. Her mother, an English woman, and her father had met in China where the latter had been sent by his government to cope with the bubonic plague and cholera epidemic.

Her life as a small child was a pleasant one indeed. She visited watering places in Italy, Chinese cities where her father had professional business, Finland which she says is lovely in the summer, and other European and Asiatic countries.

The family was in Karlsbad when World War I was declared. Nadia's father hoped to rush back to Russia to his post. He landed in a German concentration camp instead. He escaped ultimately to Kazan, a city on the Volga, where Nadia joined him much, much later. That's getting ahead of her story.

They stayed there through the war and until the outbreak of the Revolution in 1917. In October of that year the food shortage forced them to flee to the Crimea.

Nadia was then placed in a boarding school at Kerch. Her stories of those days are arresting. The school itself was 175 years old. It had been a convent in the early part of its history. All through the years it maintained its cloistered atmosphere.

It was this quiet countryside that Red and White Russia chose as one of its fields of battle. Warfare was bitter. The Reds were in the saddle one day, the Whites the next. The headmistress of the school was arrested. The school itself became a hospital.

Nadia's mother was evacuated in 1920. Nadia stole away to try to join the destroyer on which her mother was making her escape. She almost made it. Almost.

She tried to find her father. It took a year to locate him at his post at Kazan. Most of the intervening time she was hungry and homeless.

She was 16 before she finally had a home of sorts again. She entered the University of Kazan as a medical student and was able to attend classes for a year and a half. Malarial fever put an end to that.

At long last she joined her mother in Germany to which country she had fled from Constantinople. This was in 1924. In the following spring they secured passage to New York.

Nadia found a job as a receptionist in a doctor's office. Life moved smoothly again for a time. Then came another blow--tuberculosis.

But tuberculosis and the cure here are easy to take, according to her. "In these dreadful times, I am one of the most fortunate women in the world," she says.

She's a diminutive person--a bit on the frail side as the result of wars and revolution, malaria and tuberculosis. The adjective to describe her shouldn't be "shy." "Grave" does it better. She has that sobriety of mind one would expect from a young woman whose world has been blown to bits before her eyes.

 

Comments

Footnotes

1. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Saranac Lake Free Library photograph #00.12