Today the Wake Forest community celebrates the life and mourns the passing of parent, Life Trustee, and longtime University benefactor Petro ‘Pete’ Kulynych, who died on Saturday, Jan. 17 at the age of 93 (obituary).
Kulynych’s remarkable service to Wake Forest dates back to the mid-1970s when he served as chairman of the Parents’ Association. He was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1976 and served four terms before being named a Life Trustee in 1995. He also served on the Medical Center board of visitors and received an honorary degree from Wake Forest in 1997.
In 1998, Kulynych and his wife, Roena, were named North Carolina Philanthropists of the Year. His philanthropic legacy to Wake Forest includes several endowed scholarships, the Kulynych Faculty Support Fund, and the Roena Kulynych Center for Memory and Cognition Research at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
“Pete Kulynych embraced Wake Forest as if it were his own,” said President Nathan Hatch. “Though it’s been more than 40 years since he first became a Wake Forest parent, his legacy will live on for future generations of Wake Foresters when they visit the Kulynych Auditorium in the Byrum Welcome Center.”
Hatch and other University leaders extend their condolences to his daughters, Janice K. Story (’75), a University Trustee, and Brenda Cline, a past member of the Medical Center’s Board of Directors, and their families. Two of his grandchildren, Luke Cline (’99) and Laura C. Berry (’94), graduated from Wake Forest, and his great-grandson, Lance Berry (’18) is a first-year student.
The son of Ukrainian immigrants, Kulynych grew up in modest circumstances in Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school in 1939, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps as it built the Blue Ridge Parkway. In 1942, he received an appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy and served as an engineer on ships in the Atlantic and Pacific theatres.
He settled in Wilkesboro, N.C., in the mid-1940s and became a bookkeeper for a small hardware store that he helped grow into Lowe’s Companies Inc. Kulynych retired from day-to-day management of the company in 1983, but he remained with the company as president and chairman of Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, guiding the company’s philanthropic philosophy and activities.
Four years ago, the Board of Trustees honored Kulynych for 40 years of service to the University. Today Wake Forest is, and will forever be, a better place because of him.