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Educator, choir director dedicated life to God

| Tuesday, July 4, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Dr. Stefanie Yova Yazge suddenly fell asleep in the Lord on the morning of Thursday, June 29, 2017, the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul.

A group of students at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y., were planning to grab some pizza one night in the mid-1980s.

When all but two decided they were too tired, it became the de facto first date for aspiring priest Anthony Yazge and theology student Stefanie Yova.

Little did they know it would lead both on a spiritual and romantic journey of more than three decades.

Dr. Stefanie Y. Yazge died Thursday, June 29, 2017, as a result of cardiac arrest. She was 61.

Dr. Yazge was born Aug. 21, 1955, in Akron, Ohio, to the late Paul Yova and Silvia Balaj. Her father was a protodeacon in the parish of the Presentation of Our Lord, part of the Romanian Episcopate.

She earned a bachelor's degree from Miami (Ohio) University, a master of arts degree from St. Vladimir's and a doctorate from Union Institute and University in Cincinnati. She taught for a decade at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana before moving on to teaching positions at Seton Hill and St. Vincent.

She directed the choir at St. Michael the Archangel Antiochian Orthodox Church in Greensburg and served in the publications department of the Antiochian Archdiocese

Her husband, the Very Rev. Anthony Yazge, said Dr. Yazge had passion for education and music.

“She was a choir director at our church,” Yazge said. “Her sister was an opera singer, so she had an appreciation for all types of music, but mostly sacred music.”

Yazge is the director for The Antiochian Village, a campground in the Laurel Mountains. He said Dr. Yazge felt the need to mentor other women who recently married clergymen.

“She started a ‘Clergy Wives Weekend' at the Antiochian Village each fall,” he said. “The women got together not just as a retreat, but a weekend of fellowship and recreation. It was really characteristic of her life.”

Dr. Yazge also enjoyed golfing and cooking. Her husband said one of her favorite recipes was for colac, a Romanian sweet bread similar to brioche.

“She learned how to make it from her mother,” he said. “My kids are making it right now in honor of her.”

Yazge said he will not forget his wife's dedication to others and to God.

“She was an intelligent, bright and articulate woman who was passionate about her faith, friends and family,” he said.

In addition to her husband, Dr. Yazge is survived by their three children, Matthew, Mark and Alexis, and her mother-in-law, Miriam Yazge.

Family and friends will be received from noon to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Michael's Antiochian Orthodox Church, 1182 Ashland St., Greensburg. Funeral will follow directly after. Burial will be Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, 321 Monastery Lane, Ellwood City.

Memorial donations can be made to the Orthodox Clergy Wives Fund, 100 Tara Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601, or the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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