art disease on Monday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Peter T. Woloschuk, a spokesman for the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, said Saturday. He was 87.

The historian and linguist maintained that the study of Ukraine was crucial because the country straddled the boundary between western and eastern cultures. Pritsak advocated for Ukrainian studies as a legitimate academic endeavor distinct from Russian studies.

He founded the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and helped establish endowed chairs of Ukrainian studies. Pritsak served as the research institute’s first director, a post he kept for almost 20 years.

Pritsak was born April 7, 1919, in Luka, Ukraine, and learned to speak 12 languages. He joined the Harvard faculty as a professor of linguistics and Turkology in 1964.


In Cambridge, Pritsak became known for his exuberant energy and was nicknamed “The Tornado” by his staff. During his career, he wrote more than 500 books, articles and scholarly works.

Pritsak is survived by his wife Larysa Hvozdik Pritsak; his daughter, Irene Pritsak; and two grandchildren.

A funeral service was held Friday at Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church in Boston, followed by a private burial service.

A memorial service at Harvard is being planned for the fall.

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