Petro Pyrtei was born on June 26, 1919. He went to school in his native village of Smerekovets in the Lemko area. In 1931 he entered the Horlytsya Gymnasium and with time became a student at the Pedagogical high school in the town of Krosno. During World War II he worked as a teacher in the village of Florinka and then in Perunka, Novosanchivsky region for a period of time.
Between 1942-1943 Petro Pyrtei, together with Olga Petryshak, who eventually became his wife, actively participated in the antifascist struggle as part of the “Resistance Movement” Formation. Early in 1943 this group numbered eighty members. In the summer of 1943, the Gestapo traced this organization and arrested over forty of its members from the Horlytsya region.
After the war Pyrtei settled in Stanislav (now Ivano Frankovsk). He worked as a teacher in a number of village schools in the region. Later he completed the Ivano Frankovsk Teachers’ Training College, in the Department of Ukrainian Language and Literature. In 1970 he completed the four-year courses of foreign languages in Kiev.
Рetro Pyrtei never stops studying and popularizing the history and culture of the Lemko people. He was on the team of scholars which worked on the “Dictionary of Lemko Dialects”, presently under review and in the stage of preparation for publication at the Alexander Potebnya Institute of Linguistics under the Ukraine’s Academy of Sciences. He also studied the historical grammar of the Lemko dialect. The pedagogue spends his free time painting.