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"SRE" 2006 Obituary


SREBOTNJAK o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-07-11 published
By Tina SREBOTNJAK, Page A14
Husband, father, bowler. Born November 7, 1922, in Slovenia. Died January 5 in Mississauga, Ontario, of lung cancer, aged My father didn't think he was a remarkable man, but he was. He didn't climb Mount Everest, or make a killing in the stock market, or write a symphony, but when it came to doing what was right for his family, he was a Nobel laureate.
He was born in Slovenia -- then part of Yugoslavia -- in 1922. In 1941, after Germany invaded Yugoslavia, Dad was forced into the German army. In the closing months of the war, he seized a chance to desert, and joined the Czech resistance.
After the war, he met my mother. The way she tells it, she was walking up a hill and he was walking down. I guess the view was pretty good from both sides, because love bloomed. He sent her a wildly romantic letter asking for permission to court her. If she refused, he told her, the ship he was preparing for his life's journey would surely founder. They married in 1949, and had two little girls. In 1952, Dad came to the realization that a now-communist Yugoslavia was not the place to raise a family, so he planned an escape.
Without telling my mother where he was going, he headed, on foot, for the Italian border, and then eventually to Austria. From there he emigrated to Canada as a farm labourer and, three years later -- by scrimping and saving -- he was able to bring his family to Canada, too. We were now three little girls, as my mother had been pregnant with me when he left, and so it was that I first saw my dad in Quebec City at the age of 3.
Dad had the classic immigrant work ethic, and worked two jobs almost his entire life. When he wasn't at the water filtration plant that was his mainstay, he pumped gas, worked as a gardener and was a handyman extraordinaire. All this so he and my mom could finally, finally buy a house of their own, which they did in 1964, and where my mother still lives. Dad single-handedly finished the basement, carving out a room where I could study when I went to university. The interior was always being repainted, the windows painstakingly cleaned, the landscaping meticulously crafted. He was a master of organization, so that each of his dozens of screwdrivers stood in their own little slot in his workshop, and each Christmas decoration of my mother's had its own hook in the cupboard he built for her.
With the same fine touch, he also crafted his farewell to us. October 30, 2005, was the 50th anniversary of our arrival in Canada, and my father dearly wanted to celebrate it. Although he was yet to be diagnosed with cancer, he knew in his heart that time was short, and he wanted this one last commemoration of that watershed in our lives. We had a big party at a swank restaurant; he and my mother both looked like European royalty that day. In his speech, Dad talked about finding the courage to leave everything he knew because he wanted a better life for his family. He gave us that life, and all five of his children (two boys had been born in Canada) and their families were there to celebrate with him. At the close of his speech, he said, "And to end, I'd just like to say that whenever my time comes, do not be sad for too long. For you will see a smile and a happy expression on my face, with the knowledge that I did achieve what I set out to do."
Dad's journey ended on a Thursday in January. I'd been for a visit that morning, then Mom made him his favourite lunch and he went bowling with his old gang. That's where his cancer ambushed him. We found out later the disease had ravaged his body, but his heart was still strong. I like to think that's where his courage lived, and in our eyes, no one was more courageous than he.
Tina SREBOTNJAK is Andy's daughter.

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SREBOTNJAK o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2006-01-07 published
Suddenly, on Thursday, January 5, 2006, at the Trillium Health Centre - Mississauga, in his 84th year. Beloved husband of Vida, cherished father of Rose (Jim), Andrea (John), Tina (Brian), Tony (Arlene), and David (Jolene). Adored by grandchildren Leslie (Bruce), Adam, John, Nicole, Katie, Emily, and great-granddaughter Alexa. Friends may call at the Turner and Porter "Peel" Chapel, 2180 Hurontario St. (Hwy. 10, North of Queen Elizabeth Way), on Monday from 7-9 p.m. Funeral Mass at Saint Dominic's Church, 625 Atwater Ave., on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 10 o'clock. Interment to follow.

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