Monday, 20 January 2020

American Croat Creates App Which Bridges Dating and Fertility Industries

As Novac/Tena Sarcevic writes on the 19th of January, 2020, it was back in 2011 when Ivan Fatovic, an American Croat sat down for dinner with a few of his female friends in New York. They hadn't seen each other for a long time, so they had plenty to talk about. Warm friendly smiles, jokes and laughs over a bottle of wine. The conversation started off as it usually does, about what has happened to anyone since the last time they saw each other, how their families are, what's new at work, etc.

Then, his female friends, back then all single and around the age of 35, began to talk about love and relationships in the manner of the hit American show "Sex and the City".

Each of them had an aspiration to become a mother one day, and they were all aware that if they wanted to fulfill their wish, they didn't have long left to do it because of their ticking biological clocks. All of the women were beautiful and successful, but they just couldn't find the man they wanted to have a baby with.

They were looking for the real deal, in real life as well as through various dating apps. Tinder, Bumble, OK Cupid, they'd tried them all. But it seemed to them that the men on these apps were only interested in a bit of fun and nothing serious or further than that.

"These apps are more appropriate for people in their twenties," concluded one of Ivan's friends, who felt particularly frustrated about her relationship status.

''After three drinks, I've started telling guys that in the next five years I want to have three children. I don't care that people don't want to hear that on the first date,'' said one of the women. She was persistent in her position that it was better to express such wishes at the beginning than to wait for months, or even years, and then realise that the other party doesn't even want the same.

''Ivan, I don't care, I'm going to find someone who feels the same way I do,'' she told him. He jokingly replied that she didn't need Tinder but the Date and Disseminate app, to which everyone laughed.

''Is there anything like that out there? That's not a bad idea at all, I'd join such a network immediately,'' a friend told him. And that is where the idea of ​​an application to be used exclusively by women who are ready to bring their offspring into the world without waiting around for Mr. Right was born. A year after that meeting with his friends, Ivan Fatovic, an American Croat, launched a website and the Modamily app.

It defines its platform as a kind of bridge between the dating and fertility industries. What people have in common is that everyone using the app is ready to start a family, and by using the app, they are looking for people to start a family with, as well as working out the methods by which they will do so.

''Modamily can help people start a family by getting them into a relationship and then they simply decide on the next step, but we also help them out if they've opted for one of the alternative options. We educate them about freezing their eggs, testing their genes, helping them find a surrogate mother, a sperm donor or an egg donor. And they may also opt for so-called co-parenting, an option where you find a best friend you decide to have a child with. The latter case is particularly popular with some friends, one of whom is gay. This is where the ''Will and Grace'' moment comes into it,'' the 44-year-old American Croat explained. He currently resides in Los Angeles and has been living exclusively from this business for eight years now.

Modamily, which is available worldwide, is a far cry from the classic dating app. When signing up, you not only answer basic questions about your own sexual and romantic preferences, but also address more complex topics, such as your attitudes toward child-rearing or religion.

''The app asks you how important religion is to you, whether you want to bring up your child in the spirit of the religion you grew up with, whether see your child attending public or private school, whether you want to live with the potential person with whom you have a child or you want them to live nearby, who is going to pay for what, how you'd like childcare to look, etc. These are important questions that many women in their forties don't want to ask the guy they're dating, because they don't want them to think they're being attacked, but they still want to know,'' explained Ivan Fatovic.

Registration on the app is free. Before you can meet someone, you first have to like each other, and if that happens, you have 24 hours to report to the other party. After one day goes by, you can't see the people who liked you unless you pay a 30 US dollar monthly subscription.

''A subscription lets you see everyone who liked you, but it also has some other benefits. For example, you might get more search filters. You can search for single women between the ages of 30 and 40 who live within 100 kilometres of you for example, and if you pay for a subscription you can search for multiple criteria; for example, to see who is Catholic, who is of a certain race, who went to Harvard and earns a certain amount of money annually,'' explained Ivan Fatovic, who is Modamily's only full-time employee.

This application is quite progressive when considering the options it offers, such as the aforementioned co-parenting. That's why, as the American Croat added, it was targeted by Rush Limbaugh, a conservative and host of talk shows and radio shows and, among other things, a friend of Donald Trump.

"He said we were demolishing the American family institution," Ivan Fatovic recalled. But other reactions have been almost positive from the very start, and he wholeheartedly disagrees with Limbaugh's criticism.

''We don't lead people to make any type of decision, nor do we claim that it's best have a child without being married. Nor do we claim that people need to be married in order to have a child. We just offer alternative options, we help people see all their options. Nobody is going to meet someone via the app and make a baby next week. People get to know each other, become best friends, trust each other, and decide for themselves what they want to do. And I believe that at least half of the straight people who find themselves on the app do indeed develop a classic romantic relationship,'' explained Ivan Fatovic.

''I've seen situations where parents have been fiercely quarreling and hating each other for years after their divorce. This is where the child finds themselves stuck in the middle and suffers the most. But I also know of cases where former partners have remained friends and are jointly caring for the child. Modamily is very useful for finding people whose views you agree with so it reduces the chances of misunderstandings. To more traditional people, this may still be unusual, but I believe that young people understand it. More and more people want to have children, but they don't necessarily see themselves with one person for their entire lives. Maybe the person you want children with is different from the one you will grow old with,'' added this innovative American Croat.

''In addition to classic relationships, it happens that people are looking for a sperm donor or an egg donor. These can be straight couples who have fertility problems or, for example, lesbian couples who need a sperm donor. So, they want to be parents themselves, they don't need that third party, but they want to get to know her, or maybe they believe the child will want to know who their biological parent is before the age of 18. Then they sometimes suggest that the biological parent should still be involved in the life of the child, but more through a role more akin to that of an aunt or uncle than to the parent,'' Ivan Fatovic noted.

His app is used by about 25,000 people around the world, and he estimates that about one hundred babies were born owing to it. 67 percent of the members are women, one-third of whom are under 35 and the rest older. The men using the app are a little older, on average, between the ages of 30 and 40, but there are those who, in their 60s, have decided they would like a child.

About 65 percent of the this American Croat's app's users are from the US and Canada, and the rest are from around the world.

''We are strong in Britain, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Australia, with several thousand users in each of these countries. There are only a few in Croatia, but I believe the number will grow over time,'' noted the American Croat, adding that he adores Croatia.

His mother is from the island of Korcula and his dad is from the City of Zadar and he goes to Split every summer because they have an apartment on Znjan. His parents met in America, so he was born in New York, but he attended elementary school in Dubrovnik because they moved there briefly. Therefore, his Croatian is very fluent. At one time he often came to Zagreb, too.

''It seems to me that Croats, unlike Americans, are less obsessed with work, they're people who know how to take a break and enjoy the great things life has to offer,'' he says when asked about the character of Croats, adding that he is sorry that many great young minds often they leave the country for work elsewhere. Croats and Americans, he believes, have certain cultural similarities.

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Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Man Abandons Comfortable Job at Mercedes in Germany to Move to Croatia

As Novac writes on the 6th of January, 2020, while many young Croats take advantage of Croatia's European Union membership and head off in their droves to Ireland or Germany, Kristian Hostić decided to move to Croatia from Germany, the country of his parents, to which he had only been going on holiday so far, writes DW.

He grew up in Stuttgart, where his parents moved to from Croatia originally. He graduated from the Faculty of Economics and got a comfortable job at Mercedes. Although he had good conditions and a good salary, he decided a year and a half ago to leave a secure job in Germany and move to Croatia. Ge returned to his family home in Đakovo.

''I always wanted to live in Croatia, but at the time I graduated from college, the salary level in Croatia was still very low. I looked at job postings occasionally and a year and a half ago I simply decided to do it. I feel at home in Croatia, my heart is where it's meant to be here, even though I grew up in Germany and have friends there, it's just a feeling, you either feel it or you don't feel it,'' he says, adding that his parents supported him in his move to Croatia, as did his friends, even though they were in shock, they didn't try to deter him. 

He now lives in his parents' home in Đakovo and travels 40 kilometres to Slavonski Brod every day for work. He found his job at a German certification and risk assessment firm - Tüv Nord, where the working language is German. This German company has been operating in Slavonski Brod for five years now, employing 50 people, mostly Croats who have returned from Germany.

Although it is a German company, the salaries at Tüv Nord are not German. Kristian doesn't mind that, and he says that he is pleased because he has been given the opportunity to move to Croatia and work in a normal workplace, where the Croatian mentality prevails. In addition, he found love in Croatia - his girlfriend Marijana. He wants to build a future in Croatia, precisely with her.

According to official statistics, most of the Croats who have left Croatia were precisely from the overlooked Eastern region of Slavonia, and their destination was mainly Germany. From 2008 to 2018, 240,000 young Croats went to Germany and Ireland. Kristian is convinced that most of these young people or their children will return or move to Croatia once, as he did.

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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Croatian Night in Frankfurt Features Croatia's Biggest Music Stars

November 12, 2019 - Gibonni, Petar Graso, Mate Bulic, Miroslav Skoro, Domenica, Indira Forza, Prljavo kazaliste, Mladen Grdovic, Klapa Rispet and Zeljko Bebek will perform at the Croatian Night in Frankfurt this weekend. 

Namely, Dalmacija Danas reports that Croatia’s biggest music stars can be found in the same place on Saturday, November 16, in Frankfurt, where they will perform at the largest Croatian diaspora concert for an estimated 12,000 Croats and their guests at the Fraport Arena.

“As organizers, we are proud that 'Croatian Night' is recognized all over the world and has established itself as the most significant event of Croats abroad. Every year we strive, and fortunately, we manage to bring the best possible Croatian music team. This year, on the day of the concert, our Vatreni is playing for a spot at the European Championships, and we believe that the support of the 12,000 people in the arena will be felt and heard all the way to Rijeka. We believe that the atmosphere will be special and celebratory at the end of the game,” says Robert Martinovic on behalf of the Croatian Night organizers. 

Croatian Night gathers thousands of visitors every year at Frankfurt's Fraport Arena with the biggest music stars from the homeland. 


This year, the audience is eagerly awaiting Miroslav Skoro.

“Yet another Croatian Night in Frankfurt will be held this November, and I will have the honor of performing again at the largest gathering of us all outside Croatia. Come and have a good time with us in Frankfurt,” said Skoro. 

“We hope that this year, a lot of Croatians from Germany and Europe and all over the world respond and come to the largest manifestation of Croatian music in the world among the Diaspora. It is a beautiful occasion for all of us to gather and socialize. We are honored to have the luck to build even stronger ties between Croatians, those in the Diaspora and in our homeland,” the organizers added.

Just how eager our Diaspora is to experience Croatian music is shown by the fact that they come from all over the world: from Europe, Australia, America, and Canada.

To read more about the Croatian Diaspora, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Croatian Swimmer Returns from Studies in USA to Family Tradition

As Novac writes on the 1st of September, 2019, many customers, including both Rovinj locals and foreign tourists, who visited the Rovinj market this summer would likely have been greeted by Matea Peteh, recently married and now bearing the surname Bjelančević. Few people would expect that this former Croatian swimmer would serve them at stands in the realm of colourful vegetables.

After making a big circle around the world, she returned from where she came from, to the fertile land of Calandra, near the Palud Ornithological Park. She completed her studies in the United States, and although there were numerous opportunities for her over there, according to Novi list, Matea returned home to Croatia.

She chose the Swimming Spring League as the time to say a final goodbye to taking part in active competitions, and back in May 2013 at the Kantrida swimming pool, with the applause of a loyal audience, at the age of 23, she concluded her swimming career. Everyone expected her to stay in that field, to teach young people and train others. Matea Peteh, however, had other ideas and chose a completely different path.

''I've been everywhere, but my parents have been in agriculture for 30 years, so I felt it was time to come and help them. They've always supported me, took me to my training, helped with my schooling, and constantly invested in the farm so that they could be competitive on the market.

They also planted greenhouses with outdoor vegetable gardens, so I decided that it would be normal for me to continue with my family business, as it would be a great pity for all of that, behind which lies a lot of hard work, to just go to waste. My dad Mate and my mum Marica have been continuing to work for years when they should really be taking that time to relax a little, but alas, their work drives them on.

While I was intensely involved in swimming and studying in the US, my sister Tea was born, and she's already 14 years old. She has those sporty genes like I have, a preference for aerobic sports and the sea, so I take her for sailing. She started with an optimist, and then she won third place at the Croatian Open,'' says Peteh.

The work day at Calandra farm, where you will be greeted by several lovely dogs, chickens and other domestic animals, begins in the early morning when the fresh vegetables are harvested and transported to the market. The Peteh family has two stands, one of them is run and arranged by Matea and the other is handled by her mum, Marica. Matea is the youngest Rovinj vegetable grower, and many others of her generation have been asking her how and why she chose this job and a ''Croatian life'' after staying in the US and experiencing American opportunities.

''People have this notion that America is just a country of prosperity in itself. However, living there at an accelerated pace, young people need to quickly become independent and move for work. There is a lot to do to achieve the American dream, idealised in those cliché films. After five years, I decided that nothing could replace my peace on Calandra, even though that meant working from dawn til dusk, so much so that I didn't even manage to go for a swim this summer on the nearby, Cisterna beach, otherwise one of Rovinj's most beautiful,'' Matea continues.

''In the 15 years since I was away from Calandra, vegetable growing technology has changed so much that I have so much to master. However, my new job is a work in progress, so every day I'm learning something new, and encouragement is given to me from my dad Mate and my mum, Marica. Mostly, my dad is in charge of the field. He's constantly on the tractor and behind the miller and the grinder,'' explains Matea.

People in Rovinj are well aware of biologically produced vegetables. For example, the Calandra chard looks a bit different, there are holes in the leaves, meaning that it hasn't been treated with any pesticides. Because of this, locals don't bother with the shopping centres selling vegetables from unknown destinations, under the motto "from Croatian fields", but rather prefer to return to the markets with vegetable growers they know well. Matea says, therefore, that their business is not dependent on tourists who buy fruit and veg here and there, but on Rovinj's locals, who buy from her throughout the year.

''We're now nearing the end of the summer season, so we're already preparing for autumn and winter. We've already planted new plantations of cabbage, kale, spinach, chard, winter salads, chicory and other winter vegetables. On the market, we sell almost everything we produce, and only small quantities are bought by those from the hospitality industry. To reach the market and attract customers, you need a wide variety of vegetables and fruits so that customers can be supplied with everything they need all in one place,'' explains Matea.

It is a rare example that after such a rich sports career, such as thirty-year-old Matea, that a person returns from abroad and continues on with their Croatian family tradition. In the once economically diverse, now extremely touristy Rovinj, many young people, after completing their studies, seek opportunities in the cities where they study, especially if they're abroad. Matea Peteh has been there and done that. She knows that her place is in Calandra.

''There is a future for young people in agriculture. The market exists, it just needs to get going and especially focus on organic production. My love for the land was instilled by my father Mate and my mother Marica, there is also my sister-in-law, and after work, my husband Marko. We all know each other in our small town, so local housewives know where to come to buy fresh vegetables. Despite the summer crowds and the inability to park, our loyal customers come even though they have to walk for a long time,'' concludes Matea Peteh, the ex-swimmer turned youngest vegetable grower in Rovinj, boasting her own OPG.

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Monday, 26 August 2019

Owner of Korčula Boutique Hotel: ''I Came Home and Fulfilled My Dreams''

As Novac/Dora Lozica writes on the 25th of August, 2019, Novac met Zlatko Fabris, 41, at his hotel on Korčula, engrossed in figures and tables. He received the journalists cordially, though limping, telling them that he had injured his leg when splitting firewood, he had to undergo surgery, but that there's no time for that now!

When the season starts, there's no time for health either, Zlatko says, only work! The times of hotel owners simply sitting back and watching as hotel and restaurant workers do the hard work have passed.

With this philosophy, Zlatko came from South Africa to beautiful Korčula exactly fifteen years ago. Born in South Africa, Zlatko has always dreamed of one day returning to his roots, his old Korčula surname, Fabris, called him back to the Dalmatian island. However, it was not easy to decide to come to Croatia without knowing the language and the everyday ways of life, Fabris revealed.

His family is engaged in construction and tourism, but South Africa's dark history of the coexistence of blacks and whites was turbulent, to say the very least. 

''Back there, people will put a gun to your head there for money,'' Zlatko admits, so he decided to come to Korčula, hoping to find his peace there and a place where life is worth more than just money. And he wasn't mistaken. First, he tried his best to learn the Croatian language, because how can someone named Zlatko not speak Croatian!? It's simply impossible! And then he got to grips with what's best for him - his business, writes Slobodna Dalmacija.

With his initial capital, he bought a house on Plokata, the main town square in the very centre of Korčula. He bought the house from the City of Korčula itself, who then bought the birth house of Marco Polo with that money. The house soon became the famous "Happy House" hostel, with dozens of backpackers staying overnight. There was always a loud and cheerful atmosphere at "Happy House", Zlatko admits they had a good time with alcohol, song and laughter, but that it annoyed the people who lived nearby.

''They were absolutely right and I understood them one hundred percent, I started thinking how I could change the concept. I have to say, hats off to the team from the Lešić Dimitri Hotel and the Korsal Hotel, they were the first to start the story of the boutique hotel, they had the courage to do it first.

When one begins, the other is encouraged, and in 2015 one of them was me. The Fabris opened its doors,'' Zlatko says, referring to his four-star boutique hotel, which is not really a hotel because it has no elevator. Namely, in order to register his facility as a hotel, he has to have an elevator for four floors, and circumstances don't allow him to install an elevator, so he calls his facility simply "The Fabris''.

But "The Fabris" is, after all, a small "boutique" four-star hotel.

Increasingly, the term "boutique" hotel can be heard in Croatia as an ideal destination for those who, in addition to their holidays, want to experience and know more about the destination they're visiting.

"Boutique" or "lifestyle" hotels are a new trend of tourist offer, only a few decades or so old. They are smaller in capacity, but are designed in a luxury and indigenous style, relying on the values, culture and customs of the area in which they are located.

This was exactly the concept that Zlatko used to manage the interior of his building in Korčula, so he could leave everything in its original form when it was renovated. The interior walls, as well as the exterior ones, are made of antique stone, and the stairs, floors, beds and openings are made of solid oak. In all the bathrooms, there is a combination of stone and glass, the floors are adorned with expensive carpets that Zlatko brought from different parts of the world, while on the walls are old photographs of the Fabris family, which tell the visual stories of formerly world-renowned Korčula shipbuilders, including Zlatko's great-grandfather.

"The Fabris" is an attractive yet relaxed blend of tradition and a modern, minimalist approach. Zlatko didn't make the mistake of taking his initial success for granted, and last year, he decided to make another investment. About ten metres from the hotel, he bought another abandoned ruin in the heart of Korčula.

With an investment of one million euros and a lot of hard and dedicated work, that ruin has been transformed into "The Fabris 2" this season, with eleven luxurious rooms decorated in the same tone as the first hotel. The capacity of "The Fabris" is currently 21 rooms, with a rating of 9.4 on His guests are delighted, they don't want an industrial environment, but the ability to enjoy Korčula's history, architecture and authentic culture. Most of Zlatko's guests are English-speaking, as many as 80 percent of them.

Zlatko does not take all the credit for his success.

''In the season, I employ 11 people for 6 months, half of them for longer than that. They do a fantastic job and it's important to me that they have good salaries. Money motivates people and if you want loyalty and quality, you have to pay. In addition, I want people on the island to live well all 12 months of the year, I wish that every year I could travel somewhere to get to know other countries and cultures so that they would be good hosts themselves. Yes, the season has been 30 percent weaker, but that's temporary, next year, it will be even worse, So, 2015 or 2016 will happen again. You just have to always do your best,'' Fabris explained.

''I believe in Croatia and our future. We're not just any old country or any old city, we have centuries of culture and history and this is our strongest asset. We quarrel with each other, but when there is a serious problem, we are one. I think the workers from the hospitality sector from the island need to meet once a month, we have to have a common plan and strategy, stick together and help one another. From the first day, the Korčula locals have accepted me just as I am, and I'm grateful to be able to live and work here,'' Zlatko concluded.

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Friday, 19 April 2019

Croat in Germany Reveals Whether or Not Life Really is Cheaper There

A Croatian YouTuber in Germany reveals all about double standards when it comes to your weekly shop...

All too often the Croatian media is plagued by depressing stories of Croats fleeing the country in search of better lives elsewhere. Since Croatia's accession to the European Union, this trend has only grown worse and the level at which emigration from Croatia has been is hardly sustainable for the country these people are leaving behind. 

Many people leave realising that hard work and a difficult adjustment period awaits them, however many assume Western European nations like the UK, Ireland and Germany boast rivers of milk and honey and that everyone earns a huge amount for doing very little, and well, the basic fact that higher wages are typically designed to manage the high cost of living seems to bypass many in their lust for a better economic situation. Some stay, and some return with a stark realisation that life abroad isn't quite as easy as they expected.

With all that said, just how much difference is there in the general price of things between Croatia and Germany? One Croatian YouTuber who moved to Germany back in 2014, just one year after Croatia's accession to the EU, made a video for all those would-be Croatian emigrants.

As Novac writes on the 18th of April, 2019, Ivan Lovric, the oner of the YouTube channel Lovra who moved to Germany with his family in 2014, compared some basic food prices in Germany to those in Croatia in his new video.

''I thought it would be a really good idea to buy some stuff in a shop in Germany, and get my wife to buy the same things over in Croatia. To make a comparison and check whether or not it's really, as it's often said, that it's cheaper in Germany,'' explains Lovra in his video's introduction, which is in Croatian.

They arranged for Ivan's wife to visit the exact same store, a German merchant which has their own stores in Croatia, and buy the same basic foods like bread, milk, eggs, and flour. Although Ivan didn't want to name the store in his video for various reasons, he says that it will not be difficult for people to realise which store it is when they see the branded products.

The first product that the pair checked was bread, more precisely ciabatta. Ivan bought it in Germany and paid the equivalent of 5.13 kuna, and his wife spent 5.99 kuna for the exact same thing here in Croatia. The difference is a mere 86 lipa, less than 1 kuna, so Lovra concluded that that's not so terrible. Once again, the next difference is very small, but again, it leans in favour of Germany when compared to the Croatian price of milk. One litre of milk in Croatia stands at 4.99 kuna, and in Germany, at a lower price of what would be 4.61 kuna. A packet of toast and and a kilograms of fries (chips) in Germany, is cheaper by about 1.50 kuna when compared to Croatia, while sour cream is cheaper in Croatia, sold at 2.99 kuna, whereas in Germany it costs 3.64 kuna.

Still, the biggest surprise, and not in a positive way, are eggs. A box of ten eggs for which Lovro gave 8.85 kuna, his wife paid a significantly higher 13.49 kuna here in Croatia, almost five kuna more. The difference is almost 3 kuna more when comparing the prices of Nutella, a favourite of many. Over in Germany, a 400g pack costs 20.75 kuna, and in Croatia it costs 23.49 kuna.

In the end, Lovra paid a total of 131.54 kuna for his basket, and the exact same basket from the exact same German store, but in Croatia, was almost 20 kuna more, or 150.03 kuna.

''Yes, I unfortunately have to say that in Germany it's cheaper than it is in Croatia. There's not a big difference, but I believe that when everything is calculated at an annual level, the difference is a lot bigger,'' concluded Lovra.

He also added the fact that the average wage in Croatia is considerably lower than in Germany, and thus Croats have a lower standard of living than the Germans.

If you're able to understand Croatian, watch Ivan's video here:

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Tuesday, 2 April 2019

National Federation of Croatian Americans Announces “40 Under 40" Winners from USA

Washington, D.C. -- The NFCA is proud to announce the second group of “40 Under 40” Croatian Americans chosen for an award which celebrates the success and commitment of this generation. These selections recognize their talent, the accomplishments, the potential and the pride in their Croatian heritage of these forty honorees and all under the age of forty.

“We have had so much fun hearing about so many younger Croatians all over this country making their mark in so many uniquely distinct professional ways and within our community," says Andrea Novak-Neumann, “40 Under 40” committee member and NFCA Executive Vice President from Minnesota. “We looked nationwide for forty Croatian Americans who have demonstrated leadership within our community or even nationwide, with career success and many so extraordinarily successful with their dedication to Croatian causes," she added.

This new group of winners includes lawyer Marija Krpan Kuren, who was the original winner we announced last September to kick off this "40 Under 40" campaign. Marija, is one exceptional Croatian American activist who was the Croatian Fraternal Union's Guest Conductor in Zagreb in 2018 with over 400 younger Croatian Americans performing and even at Lisinski Hall in Zagreb. Marija when she's not teaching Croatian music and dance, has a day job as a General Counsel in the Pennsylvania Governor's office.

Next, let us congratulate Annie Bosko (main photo), the singer, songwriter and performer from Nashville. Annie's father is a third generation Croatian American farmer from California and this young lady has been singing since she was in diapers. Annie wrote her first song at twelve and sang with Disney Productions when she was only 14. She has had the high honor of opening for or backing up vocals with Darius Rucker, Adele, Josh Groban, Dierks Bentley and Josh Turner. Annie is one talented Croatian American singer who's very proud of her Croatian heritage.

The NFCA has chosen three other exceptional lawyers from within the legal field. Andy Kvesic excelled in Arizona's Attorney General's offices and even won "Counsel of the Year" in his department there and now is the General Counsel for The Quantum Group in the Phoenix area! Dominik Cvitanovich, a proud Croatian within the Greater New Orleans Croatian American community, joined the Carver Darden law firm in 2014 and his legal expertise is now most focused on banking, commercial litigation and also, with labor and employment issues. Dominik has recently served as a Project Leader with Youth Leadership Council which teaches members the basics of running a non-profit organization. Barbara Bijelic, is another lawyer and legal expert now working within the Responsible Business Conduct Unit (RBC) of the Organization For Economic Cooperation now based in Paris. Barbara has field experience working on governance and private sector initiatives in Cambodia, Croatia, Ethiopia, India and the Republic of Croatia.


Ana Ruzevic, firefighter and competing on the world stage too

Ana Ruzevic, another firefighter, wins this time as did Stipe Miocic two years ago. A Tulane graduate and All-American javelin thrower is a rising star, putting out fires, down in Alabama. Ana, after a stint in the insurance business and then volunteering as a firefighter, decided to make it a career and now even competes and wins at national "Firefighter Combat Challenges" competition taking 11th in the World.

Mara Oblak is a PhD expert and has studied and published about how to use "behavior analysis" to teach children with autism and behavior disorders. Mara is another Croatian American activist and in her spare time has been a longtime Board member with Seattle's CroatiaFest. Nikola Metes is another winner with many talents and a real Croatian passion and is a national officer with ACAP. Nikola has developed a marketing expertise and now works for the world renown marketing agency, Foote Cone and Belding in Chicago.

Alexander McArthy is making his mark down in Missouri and this St. Louis area resident has a joint interest in marketing and branding with a real focus on politics and digital interest group communications. Alexander has already run for the Missouri legislature and has been a nationwide advocate for the Americans For Prosperity organization.

The next winners noted are Croatian American activists. They have already made their mark in the community. First, Johnny Cvjetkovic stands out among Croatian activists of all ages in the Los Angeles area where he has excelled with St. Anthony's Kolo Club and with the Croatian Fraternal Union. He also created the St. Anthony's "Vatreni" Croatian soccer fan club. When Johnny is not busy with Croatian projects he's working as a technology professional in the entertainment industry with major Hollywood studios.


Ben Anderson, a multi-award winning executive and producer in Los Angeles

This next group includes three very talented individuals in the entertainment business including a television producer, professional dancer and a world class pianist. First, Ben Anderson is a multi-award winning executive and producer for feature film, television and virtual reality. Ben is the Executive Vice President of Phoenix Pictures where he oversaw the development of the films "Black Swan", "Shutter Island" and "The Promise." Anderson co-produced the Warner Bros, feature film "The 33" with Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche.


Maja Keres, world class dancer touring the world

Maja Keres is living her dream as a professional dancer touring with Justin Timberlake that included a Super Bowl performance and the Grammys in 2017. Keres is one of the dancers taking part in Justin's "The Man of the Woods" tour. Frane Rusinovic is a concert pianist who trained at the Levine School of Music in Washington, DC and then at the world renown Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Frane, originally from Split, has performed globally showcasing his world class skills at Carnegie Hall in New York City and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. and really enjoys performing for Croatian audiences.


Anthony Piplica, CEO in the aerospace industry

The next group of winners includes seven successful rising stars from our community excelling in the business world. Anthony Piplica is an entrepreneur and engineer within the aerospace industry and the CEO and founder of Hermeus Corporation. He is focused on technology to build the fastest airplanes in the world known as the Mach 5 aircraft project. A.J., as he is known, has collaborated with the NASA Johnson Space Center and was previously CEO of Orbit Launch Services.

Next, let me highlight two talented females in uniquely different careers making their mark globally. Bernarda Pera, is a world class tennis player, currently ranked 82nd in the world, originally from Zadar.


Ottessa Moshfegh, award winning author of the book ''Eileen''

Ottessa Moshfegh, raised in the Boston area and a daughter of two musicians, an Iranian father and a Croatian mother has become a nationally recognized author. Ottessa's debut novel, Eileen won the Hemingway Foundation-Pen Award. Moshfegh has published six stories in the prestigious "Paris Review" too. Her latest novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation was published in 2018 by the Penguin Press.

From the medical world is Dr. Matt Anderson, a physician in New Hampshire working for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He completed his training in anesthesiology at Loma Linda University Medical Center and his critical care fellowship at Dartmouth. Dr. Anderson has made several humanitarian trips globally. Melina Butuci is a scientist with a focus on immuno-oncology and leukemia research. Melina's busy finishing her PH.D at the USC's Molecular Biology department but still finds time to be active with the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP).

Alan Latkovic is currently serving as Vice President, Service and Retention for the Madison Square Garden Company. Specifically, he's in charge of all customer service initiatives and season ticket retention for the NY York Rangers and NY Knicks. He developed and executed the first ever Croatian Heritage Night for the New York Knicks on January 11, 2019 with 600 Croatian Americans there. Vedran Solaja, another New Yorker, now owns his own marketing firm. After attending college in Iowa, Vedran ended up in Los Angeles and has been active with the NYCLA-New York Croatian Los Angeles group before moving East

Nikola Matic is a commercial hop farmer with the biggest hop farm in Ohio. He is driven by the belief that his "Matic Farms" should lead the way in the East developing a hop farm to support the growing craft beer industry. Nick and his brother are partners in this venture and are both active with the ACAP chapter in Cleveland.

Davor Anic is making his mark in the New York City fashion world with his men's neckwear line called the DAVOR ANIC brand. Davor moved to the USA years ago after his training at the University of Zagreb College for Textile and Technology and has completed a master's degree in fashion design and has embraced some notable design collaboration with companies like Kenneth Cole. Tena Bugarin is an incredibly successful real estate broker with Sotheby's International Realty. Tena fell in love with New York City years ago and stayed and is active with the Croatian ACAP group.

Marino Patrk is a financial advisor and partner at the O'Rourke Group at the Oppenheimer & Company. Marino manages both private and institutional wealth for clients and still finds time to to be very active in the New York City Croatian Catholic community.

The Washington, DC area has three winners. First, Adam Radman is a digital advocacy and communications expert with the Americans for Tax Reform organization and is active locally with the Croatian community and serves on the National Federation of Croatian Americans Board of Directors. Leon Suvak from Virginia is a distinguished Army officer serving our country in the Department of Defense as a Cyber Security Expert and has quite a background from Osijek to high school at prestigious Gonzaga High School in Washington, DC to college academics at the University of Wisconsin.

Next, Angela Stepancic, a proud Istrianka, has excelled as an educational activist and principal at two schools in Washington, DC and earned an undergrad degree and Master's from Georgetown University. Angela is driven to make a difference in education and her background as a child of a Croatian immigrant and a black woman from Illinois seems to have given her an abundance of empathy and a diverse understanding of human nature that has bestowed her an extraordinary array of leadership skills.

The next four honorees are all from the state of Minnesota. The first two both worked for US Congressman Rick Nolan as congressional staffers. Justin Perpich, a political activist, has emerged as a prominent labor leader from the Iron Range. Next, Joe Radinovich, former state legislator, made a spirited run at a congressional seat and has made his mark in politics and government already with a bright future in Northern Minnesota politics.

Alex Schmidt, from the Twin Cities but now living in Dubrovnik, is the creator of the Mindful Mermaid blog, and has a growing Croatian-based specialized travel business. Alex's blog is a nuanced Croatian travel guide with all her cultural commentaries of life as a Croatian American living in Croatia and she's embracing her visions of international travel and diplomacy that she first created when in college at Loyola of Chicago. Tiffany Senkow is a PhD scientist student excelling with biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota. She has an expertise on "Dupuytrens disease" which is a deformity of the hand. Tiffany still finds time to continue her love for kolo dance in Minnesota and which she first started in Pittsburgh as a child.

Siblings Katarina Crnogorac and Petar Crnogorac, have both been selected and have demonstrated consistent and very creative leadership with Croatian folklore and dance groups in New York City. Back in 2012, Petar and Katarina formed Folklorni Ansambl Okret. Since 2016, Petar and Katarina have been teaching and choreographing for the Croatian Folklore group, Hrvatska Ruza, in Astoria New York. On January 11th, 2019 their group had the honor of performing on the basketball court at Madison Square Garden during halftime at the NY Knicks first ever Croatian Heritage Night in honor of Mario Hezonja. Katerina has been very successful in the textile design world and is working on her own artistic endeavor, studioNARONA, which is a platform for everything related to and inspired by the Croatian culture. Petar is busy career-wise within the hotel and hospitality world with an eye on Croatian tourism and is working to create an online repository of traditional Croatian folk music.

Several winners are from California. After university Ante Zoric started to work for his parents' family business, Ann & Mario Catering. Currently Anthony manages the company which has been successful for over 18 years in the film industry and has catered for so many Croatian Consulate events and many Croatian weddings. His passion for sports continues as he writes for and also collects Croatian sports memorabilia. Dragana Boras, a proud MBA graduate from St. Mary's College (CA) has developed a marketing expertise in the Northern California-Silicon Valley area and still finds time to be very active with Croatian groups. Dragana was a recent co-manager of the very successful 2018 ACAP Conference in San Jose.

Ariana Kosta, has spent twenty plus years as a tambura player and first with the American Zagreb Junior Tamburitzan group, to Zalena Polja and then to Zumbercani Orchestra. She has been active in the Croatian folklore and the Croatian Fraternal Union her whole life!

There a few more honorees from the New York City area including Diane Kolanovic-Solaja, a Croatian activist for a long time in the area. She is the proud owner of Dee Kay Events and an accomplished wedding and event planner. Diane was a key co-founder of the New York- Croatian-LA group (NYCLA group) and creator of the amazing "Croatian cruise" for professionals. Anna Nejmasic, another activist from the Big Apple area, has been singing since age six and continues today at Croatian special events and with the Catholic Manhattan Church Choir. She now excels within the world class hotel industry with the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City and is active with several Croatian American groups.


Michelle Lucic, author at age fourteen

The Committee decided again with this program to honor two extraordinary activists who have yet to graduate from college, Andrew Ciraci and Michelle Lucic and who, at such a young age, have both demonstrated exceptional commitment to excellence in their academic careers and studies. First, Andrew Ciacci, is an honor student with extraordinary experience with the Model UN competition and with a congressional fellowship in Washington, DC and already is writing for the Claremont Journal of Law and policy and excelling at Claremont McKenna College in California. Andrew has his sights on law school next year and is a real Croatian national soccer team enthusiast. Next, Michelle Lucic is an amazing young woman from Cleveland Ohio who published a book on Bullying at age 14. She is a true Renaissance woman with success and passion for music, sports, academics and writing. Michelle is now studying in Germany on an academic scholarship and has big plans for the future and college soon. She has been active with St. Paul's Croatian Catholic Church in Cleveland.

The National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation (NFCA) is a non profit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to promoting the interest of the Croatian people and to enhance the relations between the United States and Croatia through educational advocacy, public policy and political projects and overall media relations. The NFCA is a national umbrella organization established in 1993 for the Croatian American community and the Croatian Fraternal Union (CFU), Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP), the Croatian National Association (CNA) and twelve other metropolitan groups are active member groups.

For further information, please contact NFCA President Steve Rukavina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More diaspora news can be found in the dedicated section.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Western Australian Croatian Chamber of Commerce Talks Medical Tourism and More in Perth

March 11, 2019 - Western Australian Croatian Chamber of Commerce had the great pleasure of hosting three amazing ladies from Croatia at an event held on the 7th of February at the International Convention Centre in Perth and in Melbourne, organized by the Victorian Croatian Chamber of Commerce, on the 13th February. 

The guests shared their insights into their entrepreneurial success in Croatia and provided an overview of the landscape of economic opportunities for Croatian enthusiasts, both in the homeland and those abroad.


"This has been one of the best presentations the Chamber has had in a long time," said Mr Graham Rakich, one of the founding members of the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce.

The topics included: Tourism outside of the box – destination weddings and events, as well as medical tourism in Croatia and access to EU funding for future projects in Croatia.

Ms Branka Ćubelić, who returned to her motherland five years ago from Perth, created Dreamtime Events in Split Croatia, an agency specialised in destination weddings and events. Being a small investor herself, she provided us with valuable examples of investors in tourism from the Diaspora.

"I'm so happy to be back home in Perth, the city I left in 2012 to live in Croatia. Croatia is a country full of opportunities for investing, especially in tourism. I'm particularly supporting young, up and coming women in business who are staying in the country and making a difference."



A fantastic presentation held by the young Ms Lucija Kraljičković, a true ambassador of medical tourism in Croatia, provided us with a fresh, new perspective on the country. Croatia is not only a beautiful country to have a holiday, but it is also a country full of health – ideal for having surgeries, treatment, rehabilitation or just to enjoy spa and wellness. Australians are discovering Croatia - a country with excellent medical professionals, hospitals, and clinics,  to get high-quality medical care at a more affordable price. With Treatigo, the agency Ms Kraljičković founded, Australians can come to Croatia for dental work, plastic surgery, and orthopedy surgery.

"We'll take care of you from start to finish so that you can have a fantastic experience. And even enjoy a holiday in Croatia!" says Lucija, a young Croatian businesswoman who's staying in Croatia and building a business in health tourism -  a fast-growing niche.

Tanja Kovačević also held a presentation surrounding the topic "How to assist Croatia and its Diaspora to access EU funding for future projects in Croatia."

To read more about the diaspora, follow TCN's dedicated page

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

German with Croatian Roots Invests in Krapinske Toplice's Bellevue

One of the most famous symbols of Krapinske Toplice has been stood neglected and entirely abandoned for years, but could a young German who is partly of Croatian origin who moved to the area a couple of years ago be the solution this old continental gem needs?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 5th of March, 2019, David Krauss (35) moved to Croatia, more specifically to beautiful Krapinske Toplice in the continental part of the country, just over two years ago. He decided to invest in the renewal of the long abandoned Bellevue and restore its former glory. The technical review has been announced for March the 7th, after which, Zagorje will get a new face in its blossoming tourism story, according to a report from Zagorje portal.

A relatively short (at least by Croatian standards) fifteen months of construction work and two years of preparation of the project saw one of the most famous symbols of Krapinske Toplice, Restaurant Bellevue, get some new life breathed into it and a brand new beginning. A young German of the Croatian Roots, 35 year old David Kraus has been coming to Krapinske Toplice for years to the property once owned by his parents.

"My mother is Croatian and my father is a German, and we always said that we were so sorry that such a beautiful building is collapsing, so I decided to start investing," Krauss told the Zagorje portal, adding that they wanted to give the building a modern twist but remain loyal to the facility's old outlines.

The old facility, due to the very poor condition it has been in for a long time, unfortunately had to be completely demolished, even though that certainly wasn't the original plan. Namely, during construction, the walls they thought they would endure the process began to fail, so the decision to demolish everything for safety reasons was reached. Despite this, some of the old material and clay were preserved to fit into the new facility.

Restaurant Bellevue's investment was realised entirely by the Krauss family alone, and although the young investor didn't want to talk too much about the exact amount he invested, he noted that it was a large figure. He is not sorry for the move, having replaced his life in Germany for that in the beautiful rolling hills of green Zagorje, where he has been living for more than two years. He is also trained and experienced in the hospitality industry and is more than happy to work a job in the profession in which he was educated here in Croatia, too.

"For the time being, we have thirteen employees, mostly made up of the local population, which I think is very important if you're in the hospitality industry because they know the area you're in well, the customs, gastronomy, the people... The capacity is about 150 to 200 places, and we have a large outdoor terrace of almost the same capacity,'' Krauss said, astonished that people had already begun asking about their offer for weddings.

He is particularly pleased about the great reactions to the restoration of Bellevue the local population, with whom he communicates daily, have had. The older people remember that they once went to school right here.

"It's really nice when people tell me that they were once taught here, and now in their older days they intend to come here for a coffee or a beer," he said, pointing out that the project was supported by the municipal government.

When it comes to Bellevue's gastronomic offer, Krauss says the facility will offer dishes made from old Zagorje recipes, but crafted in a somewhat more modern way. They're planning and organising evenings full of live music performances, and access to their facility is specially tailored for the disabled.

"The Toplički pedestrian ring is near us for the people who are on rehabilitation to walk on, so we're glad to be here for when they're walking to come and have a bit of cake and some rest. I think we'll really have something for everyone,'' Krauss, who has always been madly in love with Zagorje, stated.

His only regret is that tourism in Zagorje and Krapinske Toplice is still not yet sufficiently developed, but fortunately, foreign tourists are increasingly recognising it as an interesting and different type of destination.

"Austrians and Slovenes increasingly choose rural tourism as a form of holiday, not just the sea. I'm sure that in a couple of years, our Zagorje will be dominated by such tourism,'' Krauss said, feel optimistic, announcing that the technical review of Bellevue will be on March the 7th, after which the grand opening will take place.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated business, travel and lifestyle pages.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Croatian Diaspora: Tom Rukavina, Happy Warrior From Iron Range of Minnesota

Thomas Martin Rukavina, 68, known as Tom or Tommy, of Pike Township, died on Monday, January 7, 2019, at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis after a battle with leukemia.

Just a few inches over five feet, Tom was short in stature but cast a big shadow in the political world in Minnesota (MN) for over 30 years. His good friend, State Senator David Tomassoni stated, "Tom had a passion for the little guy and was a giant in those fights." There was another journalist who said, "Tom was a common man with uncommon character" that made him so effective and many fellow legislators called him a hero of the working class. US Senator Amy Klobuchar shared that, "Tom understood the dignity of hard work and was a force for Iron Range workers and their families." Ken Martin the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party chair said that "there will never be another Tom Rukavina. He was smart, irreverent and there was no one more authentic."

On Friday January 18th over 375 family members, constituents and friends paid their respects to the family of Tom Rukavina at the Range Funeral Home and on Saturday January 19th over 550 attendees came to his funeral at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church, also in Virginia, Minnesota.

Many political figures still came to Virginia, Minnesota even with 40 below wind chill temperatures and almost 200 miles north of the Twin Cities to pay their respects to Tom Rukavina. This included current Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, US Senator Tina Smith, US Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, former Rep. Rick Nolan and former Governor Tim Pawlenty, too and over a dozen Minnesota state legislators over two days.

At the funeral on Saturday, January 19th, Tom's son Victor and Tom's brother Mark shared stories about life with the dynamic Tom Rukavina. Victor, had the crowd laughing about a ten year old trying to become a political operative while still in fourth grade and the family phone ringing all day long. He did admit that all these political responsibilities at an early age gave him and his sister a unique and wonderful life.

Mark Rukavina brought laughter and tears, too as he shared a few humorous stories about the real Tom Rukavina and growing up as his younger brother. However, "hard work, honesty, integrity and social justice were our family's values and Tom internalized these values and devoted his life to fighting for working people and caring for all," said Mark. He finished by saying that he loved his brother very much and "really could not imagine life without Tommy."

The priest Father Brandon Moravitz eulogized how Tom's life was "so well lived" and that he was so successful because he had "a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone " that he brought to the political world. The Catholic priest went on to explain what made Tom Rukavina who he was and what he stood for in his career.

Gary Cervenik

Gary Cerkvenik eulogizing Tom at the funeral mass with the infamous "refreshingly honest'' underwear

Gary Cerkvenik, long time political associate of Tom for over twenty years gave a wonderful salute and eulogy at the funeral to the accomplished legislator. He talked about Tom's commitment to creating jobs, buy made in America and access to education for all. Mr. Cerkvenik had cited the amazing fact that Tom introduced 594 bills during his 26 years in the Minnesota legislature and served with pride and honor.

He also showed in church, the pair of underwear boxers made in the USA with the words "refreshingly honest" which was the campaign slogan for Tom's 2010 race for governor. Gary went on to cite ten plus major legislative accomplishments by Tom in the Minnesota House and stated that "We all have a duty to carry on Tom's work and passion for the common good."

Our immediate Rukavina immigrant story begins with our grandfather Thomas Rukavina coming to the USA on April 26th in 1900 from the Lika area of Croatia. He landed in Baltimore, Maryland then was off to Chicago on a train. Thomas married Lucy Basic from Perusic in 1913 in Chicago and after his saloon burned down later that year, he moved to Virginia, Minnesota where he became an iron ore miner and had a family of three sons and two daughters.

Tom was born to son Martin “Benny” and Martha Rukavina (Mordini) in Virginia on August 23, 1950. He grew up on the northside of Virginia, Minnesota, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood with a big extended family which positively influenced his life forever. He graduated from Virginia High School in 1968. He attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus where he graduated in 1972, magna cum laude in political science, with a minor in history. He met Lenore Lampi there in college and they married in September 1973. They lived for nearly 30 years north of Virginia where they homesteaded in Pike Township.

Tom and Lenore had two children, Ida and Victor. Tom later married Jean Cole in October 2012, adding three stepdaughters to his extended family.

Tom was proud to have been a steelworker and even a milk truck driver in the Tower and Soudan area, which he credits as one of the reasons a Croatian-Italian American could learn to speak Finnish. He also worked at Ironworld, where he recorded the oral histories of hundreds of early Iron Rangers, establishing a rich resource and legacy for generations to come.

He began his life as a public servant on the Virginia School Board and as a Pike Township supervisor. In 1982, Tom ran for the Minnesota House and lost by 12 votes. However, he did not give up his political dreams. In 1986 Tom ran again and was elected state representative to the Minnesota legislature, representing the 5A district of Virginia and the East Range, a position he held for 26 years.

Tom, like Governor Rudy Perpich, the only Iron Ranger and Croatian American Governor of Minnesota, was also completely committed to creating jobs and making college education available and more affordable for all Minnesotans. Tom's signature accomplishments included writing the unique Plant Closing prevention bill, led the fight for the MN solar energy incentives, won concessions so iron ore from Minnesota was used in sports stadiums all over the USA or that American flags were made in the USA, too.

Tom fought for union rights and for jobs on the Iron Range and he led the efforts to establish the Iron Range Engineering program at Mesabi Range College and found a way to create tax dollars to fund these type of educational programs to benefits all college students in St. Louis County. However, many say that Tom's leadership to get the minimum wage raised and passed with a Republican governor and with a Republican controlled-legislature could have been Tom's biggest accomplishment and he did it with a one vote margin.

Some called him the "Happy Warrior" like others had with Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Tom always joked that politically he was the "lovechild of progressive Paul Wellstone and the maverick Jesse Ventura," since he had his own independent streak. He ran for Governor in 2010 and some say his speech in Duluth at the DFL convention was one of the best ever made by a Minnesota candidate for Governor.

Tom Delia

Tom with his granddaughter Delia

After ‘retiring’ from politics to help with his first grandchild, Delia, he took a job with Congressman Rick Nolan on the Iron Range. Tom missed politics and in 2014, he was back as a candidate and elected as a St. Louis County Commissioner, a job he held until he passed away on his last official day in office and his successor was Croatian American Paul McDonald, son of Bob McDonald (Perkovich) the famous basketball coach from Chisholm MN.

Tom loved the Iron Range of Minnesota and in one interview stated, "I think I even have iron ore in my blood."

Tom was a devoted public servant, who answered all emails and all phone calls at all hours and doing his best to serve his constituents. He would sometimes joke and say "I work for the little fellers, not the Rockefellers."

Tom believed that as a politician and legislator it was his duty to improve people’s lives. Throughout his career, he defended workers’ rights and union rights, seniors, education, and youth. As testimony to his dedication and hard work, the building which houses the Iron Range Engineering Program at Mesabi Range College bears his name. Daughter Ida has joined the family business of politics and now works for Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Tom will forever be known for his quick wit, his intelligence, his hard work and effectiveness, his passion, his caring heart, his integrity and honesty, his humor, and his dedication to improving people’s lives. Tom with his warm eyes and disarming smile and as one legislator said, Tom had "it" and he had a gift about how to to connect with people. He was an master storyteller and with his uniquely infectious sense of humor .

Tommy Joey 

Tom with his "Uncle Joey" Rukavina (my father) - two incredible storytellers from the Iron Range!

Tom was a lifelong member of Croatian Fraternal Union Lodge 635 in Virginia, Minnesota like his Uncle "Joey" Rukavina (my father). Tom loved to travel and made special trips to meet his relatives in Italy and Croatia. He treasured the ethnic richness of the Iron Range and impressively Tom would speak Croatian, Italian, Slovenian and even Finnish with his constituents when he would go door-to-door campaigning.

In the fall of 2000, Tom traveled to Croatia with Minnesota Lt. Governor Mae Shunk, also a Croatian American as part of the Minnesota National Guard delegation. The Republic of Croatia and MN National Guard entered into a military partnership in 1996 and this relationship was an important element of the Croatia's ascension in the Euro-Atlantic community and with NATO membership. Tom was thrilled to return again to the homeland of his grandfather, Thomas Rukavina as part of this historic visit and to experience more Croatian culture firsthand.

Grandkids Ely Parade

Tom with daughter-in law Melissa, with Serafina, Delia standing with baby Lucia and daughter Ida

He loved his family and his greatest wish was to spend more years with his granddaughters and he told me in the summer of 2018, that he hoped he had 30 more years to be a "deda" to his granddaughters.

Tom is survived by his wife, Jean Cole; daughter, Ida Rukavina (Jesse Dahl), of Palo; son, Victor (Michelle) Rukavina, of Minneapolis; granddaughters, Delia, Lucia and Serafina; sister, Chris (Dennis) Rudy, of Washington, D.C; brother, Mark (Barbara McQueen) Rukavina, of Boston, MA, and their children Ben, Nate and Sara.

Tom was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Martin “Benny” and Martha; aunts and uncles: Louis and Helen Mordini, Laura and Bob Carlson, Gloria and John Folman, Michael “Mela” Rukavina, Catherine “Katie” Rukavina, Anne and Roy Thornton, Joseph (Joey) and Arlene Rukavina.

Ida Rick Nolan

Former Congressman Rick Nolan with Ida Rukavina who works for US Senator Amy Klobuchar

In late November, while in the hospital, Tom Rukavina sent a letter to the Editor of the Timberjay newspaper in Ely MN and he wrote that "Hate helps no one and love solves everything." In this letter, Tom salutes and details what immigrants have done for America and still do for this country. Tom as a proud Croatian and Italian American always believed in the promise and contributions of immigrants and "people are people no matter their color, religion or country of origin and they are good people coming to the land of the free for the same reason as our ancestors did." For Ida Rukavina, her dad's letter is all about the themes she's known all her life as one of two Rukavina children growing up among the Croatians, Italians and Finns on the Iron Range and "it was the story he told us our whole lives," Ida said. "The letter really is who he raised us to be."

Tom Paul McDonald

Tom with Croatian American Paul McDonald, his successor on the St. Louis County Council (Photo courtesy of ERIC SHERMAN IMAGES)

On Monday, January 7th, Tom Rukavina passed away and it also was his last day as an elected official. He left behind thousands and thousands of former constituents who adored him. There will never be another Tom Rukavina, and his wit and passion for life and causes will be greatly missed by those on the Iron Range who saw him in action for over thirty years as an elected official.

Tom's legacy will live on through the scholarship programs he has created and the family urges any remembrances to honor Tom may be made to: Tom Rukavina Scholarship Fund c/o Mesabi Range College Foundation, 101 West Chestnut Street, Virginia Minnesota 55792.

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