Writing Clerical 05

Dr. Frank John Olynyk

May 7, 1942 ~ February 24, 2022 (age 79)

Obituary

Dr. Frank John Olynyk, 79, computer scientist, researcher of military aviation history, and author, died unexpectedly but peacefully, on  February 24, 2022, at his home in Aurora, Ohio, due to kidney failure caused by years of diabetes.  He was of Ukrainian descent, so it is ironic that this was the evening of the apocalyptic invasion of the Ukraine by Russian forces.

 

Frank's lifelong passion was a commitment to researching original military records and publishing books on the topic of fighter pilots of the world, their aircraft and squadrons.  His goal was to establish those who were indeed "Aces", pilots credited with destroying five or more enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat.  He traveled on a regular basis to the U.S. National Archives in D.C., where he had his regular desk while wearing white aviation-theme tee shirts; to the Maxwell Air Force Base Library in Montgomery, Alabama, and to the Public Records Office in London, England.  He assembled an immense library of books published in all languages, photocopied original documents, and created electronic databases of information.  American Fighter Aces Association officers state that "Frank Olynyk was the world's most knowledgeable historian regarding the fighter aces of the world; his volumes of U.S., and some British, aerial victory credits far exceed anything produced by officialdom; he will be irreplaceable."

 

The results of his research were self-published over several years in ten different "Victory Lists" covering World War I well into the jet age, and were arranged into geographical area of conflict as well as by branch of service; they listed individual planes shot down or damaged, and location. These lists (actually 200-800 page books) are now out of print due to archaic tape format, thus are highly prized by aviation historians, and sought after when one becomes available for sale online.

 

Frank Olynyk's 700-page book Stars and Bars:  A Tribute to the American Fighter Ace, 1920-1973 was published in 1995, when digital printing was still evolving, and was a more concise list, of the 1,301 U.S. Aces credited with five Victories, along with photos and bios.  It soon sold out, and was never reprinted, although Frank kept constantly researching and updating his databases.  Wish list:  updated edition to be published, based on his further research!

 

After Stars and Bars, Frank began a years-long collaboration with prolific air-wars author Chris Shores of Great Britain.  An ambitious series of six volumes entitled A History of the Mediterranean Air War, 1940-1945 was published starting in 2008, involving several co-authors, and the final volume will be published in 2023.  Frank Olynyk was a walking encyclopedia on the topic of aviation Aces, and the military aviation community mourns his loss.  His library and research data will be donated to the American Fighter Aces Association (AFAA), for the museum and library they will be establishing for all their accumulated materials.

 

Frank was inducted as an Honoree of the AFAA in 1987 for his years of support for the group, and took over as their official Historian, and Advisor to the AFAA Victory Confirmation Board.  He gave updates on officially recognized Ace status at their annual conventions, that were usually accepted by the U.S. Air Force as correct.  Scholarly as he was, he was known for his quiet dry humor, and his helpfulness in freely sharing information and posting on online forums. In 2015, the collective group of all American Fighter Aces received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, for their outstanding contribution to defending our nation's freedom; Frank was invited to that ceremony in D.C.

 

Frank Olynyk's other passion was reading science fantasy and science fiction, and he faithfully attended the annual World Cons and Fantasy Cons (conventions) held at different cities each year, throughout the world.  Here he volunteered at the author signing tables, and collected signatures for his extensive collection of science fiction books and magazines.  Here again, he was a walking encyclopedia on the authors and their other-worldly realms, and was himself quite intrigued by the expanding scientific discoveries of the far reaches of our solar system and beyond.

 

Now, about the man himself.  Dr. Frank Olynyk was born May 7, 1942, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Canadians Dr. Paul Olynyk, chemistry professor, and Caroline Allan Olynyk, genealogist and librarian.  He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, got his Bachelors in Mathematics [basically Statistics] at the former Case Institute of Technology, his Masters in Computer Engineering at the same place, with a thesis entitled "The Intertranslation of Algol and Fortran", and received his PhD in Computer Science at Case Western Reserve University in 1969.  He soon got his U.S. citizenship, and moved to Aurora, Ohio, where he started his research in earnest, while employed at Chi Corporation, which was created by CWRU to handle their computer needs.  Here he was a computer systems programmer, technical developer, and senior manager for almost 30 years.  One of his first responsibilities was creating the Fortran compiler, which translated software code into usable machine code.  "Truly an inventive genius, he was a very bright individual and major contributor to Chi's success."  When the company was bought and he was faced with a job transfer to Cincinnati, Frank did not want to move his books, nor displace his mother who was now living with him.  He took this time to do final editing of his book Stars and Bars.  He then worked for the accounting firm Ernst & Young in their Cleveland office, until retirement.  He continued working as a consultant for software development companies, and for the computerized publishing company ACS - Affiliated Computer Services.  His retirement years were devoted to research into fighter Aces, writing books, attending conventions for both Aces and Science Fiction Fans, and meeting up with his lifelong Chi friends over a Chinese meal.  He definitely had his priorities!

 

Frank Olynyk never married, and is survived by sister Kathy O. Smith-Hundley, of Medina, Ohio, brothers Philip Olynyk of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and David Olynyk of Chardon, Ohio, and half siblings John Paul Olynyk of Tolland, Conn., and Sarah Anastasia Pecora, of Pittstown, N.J.  Frank Olynyk has been cremated; an online memorial service will be held at a later date.  Testimonials and memories are encouraged at https://www.sscfuneralhomes.com. Charitable donations in Frank's memory may be directed to The American Fighter Aces Association, 355 Herbert Drive, Hensley, Arkansas 72065.

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