Agnes (Boyko) Warbitsky of Butte, North Dakota, the only living heir of Kost and Eftemina Boyko, celebrated her centennial milestone at the Souris Valley Care Center in Velva, North Dakota. A last minute change due to inclement weather moved the party to Velva from the Butte American Legion, where family and townspeople had planned to gather for supper.

Although many could not make it through the winter storm of life-threatening wind chills accompanied by whiteouts in the buttes and ice and blowing snow on the roads, two of Agnes’ nephews and their families, Roger and Karen Boyko and Richard and Marianne Podruchny, gathered in the center’s dining area to tell stories. There was music by Grant Boyko and the fourth generation of nephews, Seth, Jacob and Brady, with help from Cody and MaKya Kostenko, whose parents, Darrin and Tammy were neighbors to the Warbitskys for many years.

Colten Anderson, son of Derik (great nephew) and Tammy Anderson, added his rendition of the age-old children’s song “Jesus Loves Me.” Heather, a great niece, took pictures of all who came to honor such a beautiful woman.

Agnes Boyko, the 12th of 14 children, was born January 7, 1914, to Ukrainian immigrants in Greatstone Township of McLean County. Encouraged by her father and brother John, Agnes received not only her High School diploma but went on to graduate from Minot State, then known as Normal Training College, with a two-year teaching degree. Miss Boyko/Mrs.Warbitsky taught for 10 years in country schools of Mercer and McLean Counties.

After her marriage to Alex Warbitsky in October 1943, she moved to the homestead where they made a living from milk cows and small grains. A proud lifetime charter member of the Drake Threshing Association, Agnes was known for her beautiful garden and nice yard. Although they had no children of their own, they raised their nephew, Donald Fleming of Chicago.

A member of the Butte Adventist Church until its closing, Agnes is now a member of Turtle Lake. Through the years she held various church offices and even today, she remembers the old hymns and sings along from memory.

During her 100th birthday celebration Pastor Tim Mantei of Butte used his language skills in a tongue not understood by most present to pronounce a blessing on Agnes. Karen Boyko told some of the story of Aunt Agnes’ life and quoted Hebrews 12:1 as fitting for the occasion, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin, which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” What a challenge Agnes has put before her family and friends, running her own marathon for 100 years, as she continues to honor God, singing hymns and quoting Scripture in two languages.


Authors: Karen Boyko is married to Agnes’ nephew Roger. Sandy Blanes is a correspondent for a local newspaper.