November 12, 1924 – February 4, 2021
Larisa Beresowskaja McCue, born in Rostov-on-Don, Russia on November 12, 1924, died peacefully and surrounded by love on February 4, 2021 in Overland Park, Kansas.
She was 96. Larisa was an adventurer, world traveler, gifted teacher, devout Catholic, devoted wife, supportive mother, life-long learner, and a true patriot. While her experiences were full and varied, it was her childhood in Russia and the horrors of World War II that would shape and solidify her character for the rest of her life.
Larisa was the only daughter to Dmitri and Maria Beresowskaja. She grew up in village in southern Russia near the Ukrainian border with her younger brother Anatoly. Larisa’s mother had only three years of education, and her father but one, however, they recognized that Larisa was a quick study. She learned algebra and read the Iliad and Odyssey before starting school. She was a top student, and as a teen, she was accepted to a heavy-industry college. Larisa’s hopes of attending this prestigious school were dashed when the Germans invaded her town. The Russians were determined to drive back the Nazis, and she joined the effort by digging ditches and working in a makeshift hospital to aid the wounded and dying. The German forces were too strong, and the summer of 1942, the German tanks rolled in and they captured all the Jews from the town and murdered them. Larisa and her brother rode their bikes to the outskirts of Rostov, and discovered the ravine where the murdered, including many of her school friends, had been robbed, stripped, and left uncovered. Two months later, Larisa herself was taken by the Nazis as a prisoner of war. She was transported to Germany in a cattle train. They stopped in Auschwitz concentration camp for medical examination. Those who did not pass their physical were killed or sent back to Russia. Then the prisoners were brought to a farm village near Koblentz, Germany and were auctioned off as slaves. Larisa worked the harvest on a potato farm and was then sent to Dusseldorf to be sold again. She felt extremely lucky that a man approached her and asked in German, “Would you like to work for me?” With eight years of German under her belt, she replied enthusiastically, “I would.” Larisa then was asked to choose four women to work in the town of Angermünd. It was a difficult choice and one she never forgot, as she didn’t know the fate of those whom she did not select. For the next three years, Larisa worked as a nanny and housekeeper for the Nüttgens, a religious Catholic family who abhorred Hitler, and treated Larisa with dignity. Larisa forever valued the impact the Nüttgens had on her. She became Catholic because of them and remained friends with Nüttgens for the rest of her life. In April of 1945, the American soldiers occupied and liberated the town of Angermünd. All the Russian prisoners of war were being returned home. Larisa was offered a job with the U.S. Army as a translator from Russian to German. She accepted and worked alongside a red-headed staff sergeant named William (Bill) McCue who translated from German to English. The two instantly fell in love, and Bill proposed after knowing Larisa only a month. They could not marry in Germany, as it was an enemy country, so Bill’s unit, the 774th Tank Destroyer Batallion, camouflaged Larisa in an American uniform and smuggled her to Czechoslovakia so they could be wed. Bill next served as a translator for the Nuremberg War Trials and then the couple spent a month in Paris awaiting Larisa’s visa. In March of 1946, Larisa, along with a ship full of war brides, boarded the Italian ocean liner MS Vulcania to travel to the United States, her new home. She never forgot the feeling of entering Ellis Island with all its hope and promise.
Larisa and Bill’s love story spanned 67 years. Together they made a home in New York and raised five children. Bill was an investigator for a law firm and Larisa prompted him to go to law school. He served as Assistant Attorney General for decades. Larisa supported him throughout his professional career and was active in his political career in local office. Larisa raised her family with abiding love. She spent countless hours at swim meets, dance recitals, wrestling matches, and class trips. When the time was right, Larisa went back to college. She earned her Bachelor degree and a summa cum laude Masters in Education. Larisa worked as a preschool teacher for many years and taught her young students algebra, Russian, and German, believing that young minds could learn just about anything. She also worked as an aerobics instructor for seniors until she was 80.
Larisa maintained her zest for life and a love of travel. She and her family explored our 50 states and camped in many of our national parks. She chased bears out of the family’s campsite and took photos just a bit too close to a herd of moose. She had a profound love of America and the freedoms our country afforded her. She and Bill also discovered the beauty of Ireland, Italy, Iceland, France, and of course returned to Russia and Germany. During her first trip back to Russia, Larisa and her mother reunited after 32 years. Larisa was able to bring her mother Maria to the United States where she cared for her until her death.
Larisa and Bill moved to Wellesley, MA where they lived for 15 years. They were active in the Council on Aging, taking advantage of many outings, and Larisa took German class and studied Russian Literature. She was a hands-on grandma attending soccer games, musicals, and sharing her life’s lessons with her grandchildren. Her mantra was, “Never say, ‘I can’t.’ Always say, ‘I’ll try!” She told her life story many times over and particularly enjoyed telling it to students in the hopes of keeping the history of World War II in the forefront of young minds and so that the atrocities of the war would never be repeated.
At the age of 95, when asked by her son-in-law Dave to move to Kansas City she replied true to form, “Why not?” Afterall, home is where the heart is. Larisa embraced adventure until the end. She is survived by 4 children, Larisa Anne Waloski of The Colony, TX, James McCue (Maria) of Medford, NY, William G. McCue (Judy) of Hollywood, FL and Mary Kaye (Dave) of Leawood, KS; seven grandchildren: Eric (Heather), Daniel (Beth), Annemarie, Ariana, Meg, Brendan, Erin; as well as seven great-grandchildren: Tori, Lexi, Kate, Lauren, Jack, Lilly, and Julia, all of whom she loved dearly.
Larisa will be laid to rest at Mount St. Mary Cemetery in Flushing, NY alongside those who have predeceased her: her husband Bill, son Robert, her mother Maria, and her in-laws Anne and George Tice. A memorial service will be held at Saint Cecilia Parish in Boston at a later date.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
February 9, 2021
Larisa touched my life in ways too many to enumerate here. She was like a surrogate mother to me. She was an amazing storyteller and an avid listener. She survived through so much adversity to become a thriver in a world that so needed her. She was funny and had an amazing “potato story” that I never tired of hearing. My life has been blessed because of her. To dear Mary and all your family, I send my love and deep gratitude for the gift of your mum. Much love, Moira
February 6, 2021
I remember Larisa's great pleasure joining in all of the festivities at Mary & Dave's home in Wellesley, loving the music & conversation, with a special delight in her adored grandchildren. I shall treasure her memory.
February 6, 2021
hello, I took care of Larisa the few times she came to Brookdale Senior living. She was very sweet and funny and it was a pleasure working with her.