Konstantin Ryzhik
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Konstantin Ryzhik

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Konstantin Ryzhik
RYZHIK: Konstantin Ryzhik, a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and an engineer who helped build some of the most traveled roadways and tunnels in Pittsburgh, died peacefully on March 29, 2019, after a long illness, at nearly 92. He was born May 1, 1927 in St. Petersburg, Russia, to Girsh-Zusya Meyer Ryzhik (father) and Nehama Kalman Pliss (mother), who predeceased him, along with his sister Rachel Ryzhik. For over 69 years, he was devotedly married to Betty (Podolsky) Ryzhik, known as Bella, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, and who survives him. They met when they were 5 and 6 years old. Having lived through the siege of Leningrad, in which the city’s residents were starved, both are Holocaust survivors; Konstantin nearly died as a 14-year-old on a ration of four ounces of food per day. He went on to study construction engineering and worked at federal construction sites, including, at a top-secret location in the Urals, the first nuclear facility in Russia — the Soviet equivalent of Los Alamos. In 1979, Konstantin immigrated to the United States with his family and began a long and happy life in Squirrel Hill, where he bought and hand-remodeled (and then remodeled, and remodeled again) a home that became the hub of many lively holiday and family gatherings. He was known for dressing up as a dancing Santa, stashing lottery tickets under the dinner plates, and making pancakes and pizza for his grandchildren every Saturday. Working for Green International, he was an engineering inspector during Pittsburgh’s light rail construction. Later, he began a long career at Mosites Construction, where he managed major projects including the Coraopolis Bridge, the Turnpike Tunnels and the Pittsburgh Airport. He retired from construction sites, somewhat reluctantly, at age 76, after many entreaties by his colleagues to stay. His work ethic and expertise, his coworkers said, made him “a legend” in the job. Though he only started speaking English at 52, and sometimes still had language foibles – he called his favorite show not “MacGyver” but “MacDiver” – he nonetheless aced a Dale Carnegie speaking course. Konstantin’s heart and pride were in his family, and he is survived by his son Gregory (Anna) Ryzik, of Pittsburgh; his daughter Larisa Mason (Ray Stoner), of Fox Chapel; his grandchildren Melena Ryzik, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Michael Mason, of Allison Park; Tanya Portny, of Philadelphia; and Katrina Mason-Bentz, of Fox Chapel; along with their spouses Daly Clement, Dr. Ekaterina Yatsuba, and Brian Portny. He doted on his five great-grandsons: Matthew, Daniel and Andrew Mason; Zachary Portny; and Constantine Ryzik Clement, who goes by Asa. Konstantin is also survived by numerous other family members and friends on whom he made an indelible imprint. A man who could fix anything, who was equally at home in front of a sewing machine and a carburetor, Kotya, as his family called him, was known for practical jokes and landing a punch line. He was also an avid hockey fan who spent many nights at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, cheering on the Penguins with his son. He argued about global politics until the very end, and helped innumerable people in Pittsburgh’s Russian immigrant community land on their feet. He made sure his family members knew they were loved, and they hope to carry on with all the fortitude, grace and humor he taught them. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment Beth Shalom Cemetery. Donations can be sent to: Shadyside Hospital Foundation, 532 S. Aiken Avenue, Suite #302, Pittsburgh, PA 15232, to the nursing staff of Pavilion 3 in memory of Konstantin Ryzhik. schugar.com
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