George Zlotnick often reminds me of my own grandfather, as I perceived him when I was young: big, strong, and amazingly resilient, one of the father figures who are God-like to their children. In this sense, I can relate to the story Greg told about his father this past Sunday: When Greg was age five, and walking along the street with his little hand in George’s powerful clasp, he stopped for a moment, looked up, and gazed in awe at the towering figure.
Ever since joining Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in 1998, I have perceived George as the respected elder in the church, the head of an extended family that holds him in the highest regard, and the chief preserver of the oral history of the church.
In church meetings, and at more informal social occasions, George would listen to different opinions, hear strong expressions of emotion, and then quietly offer the facts or reasons that led to a speedy resolution of an emerging conflict.
He and his wife, Zenia, always a twosome, have given a sense of security and order to the church community, providing a rare model of marital longevity and stability. Gracious yet outspoken, tenderhearted and generous with affection, Zenia cares deeply for her family, has been motherly to those in need, and takes great pride in the leadership of her husband.
George has been credited with memorable stories about the early years of the church, but he also leaves a legacy in the visible church. For example, on entering and looking ahead toward the altar, we see an arch over the iconostasis that separates the sanctuary and the nave. During construction of the church’s interior, George fitted the flat surface of the curved arc with letters carved in wood. They form words in both English and Russian that, fortuitously, exactly filled the space: In the Fear of God and With Faith Draw Near. We are reminded, every time we see this production by George, as well as hear the words from the priest, that we are called to communion with God and one another.
Barbara E. Lacey, Ph.D.