Rade Damjanovich, beloved husband of Radojka, loving father of Alexander and Nevenka. During World War II Rade was a member of the legendary Dinarska Brigade, the Chetnik movement under the command of Vojvoda Momcilo Djujic, allied to the US forces, that fought against the German Nazi forces in Yugoslavia. In the US Rade was the vice-president of the Serbian National Defense and of the general Draza Mihailovic Memorial Organization. Memory Eternal.
Visitation Friday, April 23, 2010 from 4 to 9 p.m. at Sveta Gora, Serbian Orthodox Funeral Home, 3517-27 N. Pulaski Road in Chicago. Pomen (Wake Service) 7 p.m. at chapel.
Opelo (Serbian Orthodox Funeral Service) Saturday, April 24, 2010, 1 p.m. at the New Gracanica Monastery in Third Lake, IL. Interment Most Holy Mother of God Cemetery.
My father, Rade Damjanovich, was born on April 15, 1916 in Kesic, a village just outside the small town of Bosansko Grahovo in Bosnia. He was the second oldest of four children, all boys. I think his childhood was ordinary: he went to school, he played, he helped his parents. He told me that sometimes his older brother refused to do things their mother asked of him. My father would then do those things. When he was a teenager my father’s parents told him they could not afford his education and he would train for work in nearby Serbia. I think this experience increased my father’s sympathy for others. He had dutifully done everything his parents had asked of him and done things his older brother had refused to do, but he was sent away to be apprenticed, although this often happened in those days. He first trained to be a photographer, but his mentor beat him, and he then became an apprentice in a different field. He was working in Nis in Serbia when World War II broke out. He walked home from Nis, a distance of about one hundred miles. Along the way he was detained by occupying forces. He told his captors he had family and property in nearby Bosnia, and judging my father to be only a minor threat his captors allowed him to proceed. My father walked the rest of the way home and became a Cetnik. For those of you who don’t know, the Cetniks were guerrilla fighters in Yugoslavia against the Axis forces and their local allies. The Cetniks were also loyal to Yugoslavia’s ruling monarchy. Yugoslavia’s Communists, too, opposed the Axis powers but also opposed the royalist Cetniks. Toward the end of the war the Allies abandoned the Cetniks and threw their support behind the Communists. When the Axis was defeated the Communists took control of Yugoslavia. Since the Cetniks had been enemies of the Communists, the Allies took many of them prisoner of war. My father was taken prisoner of war and held in a camp in Italy. The Allies repeatedly offered the captive Cetniks freedom if they would return to Yugoslavia, but the Cetniks hated and distrusted the Communists, who during the war had attacked the Cetniks as much as they had the Axis forces. Two years later Allied governments gave up trying to repatriate the Cetniks and began admitting them into their own countries. Given the choice, my father chose to go to England, since it was nearer home than the U.S., Canada, or Australia, which also accepted Cetniks.
My father arrived in England in 1947. England was devastated after the war, and most of the money my father made working in a steel factory there went into his living expenses. Some of my father’s friends, fellow Cetniks, got married, and my father was often a member of the wedding party. My father saw his friends getting married, and by the mid-1950’s England had recovered enough that my father’s thoughts turned to marriage. He indirectly contacted Radojka Stojakovich, a young woman who had grown up mostly around my father’s hometown though she was then living in a different region of Yugoslavia. He asked her to join him in England. She agreed and arrived in England in late 1956. They were married in January of 1957. I, their eldest child, was born in November of 1957, and two years later my sister Nevenka was born. My mother, thinking her children would have greater opportunity in America, urged my father to move us to the U.S. In 1965 we came to the U.S. Factory work was easy to find at that time, and soon after arriving my father started working in a factory where he ground steel pieces into parts for truck transmissions. He worked hard, was good at his job, and with overtime, which he was often given since he was very good at his job, he made enough money to buy a house and then another and raise two children and pay for their educations. I want you to understand how hard my father worked. He usually worked overtime. He was given much overtime because he knew how to set up certain cutting and grinding machines to cut and grind steel pieces to precise specifications. Once after a contract change that gave union officers first opportunity to take overtime, one of the union officers took that opportunity when the company was under a deadline. He asked my father to set up the machines, my father refused, the union officer produced nothing but scrap, and contract or no the company thereafter made sure that my father got all the overtime he needed to produce the goods they needed. A couple of times my father, trying to help the company meet deadlines, worked so hard that he came home with numb arms. On those occasions, a Serbian doctor made a house call and gave my father cortisone injections. My father worked at that factory until a month before it closed. He was seventy-two when he retired.
Socially, my father was a member of the Association of Ex-combatants of the Royal Yugoslav Army, a Cetnik organization. He served as its vice-president. In the 1960’s until the early 1970’s this organization held dances and dinners in commemoration of dates of historical significance to Serbs or to the Cetniks in particular. From the mid-1970’s on the organization became mostly a commemorative one, printing a newspaper with articles about Serbian history and then current Serbian politics and honoring the passing of Cetniks. Our family attended the picnics held at the Libertyville church and later at New Gracanica monastery, but otherwise my father attended few social functions. My father was a friendly person who would have liked to spend more time in social situations but had little opportunity to do so. In the winter of 1979-1980 periods of freezing cold were mixed with significant snowfalls so that snow piled up so high I was shoveling it onto piles over my head. My father joined with others to push cars out of their snowed-in parking spots. He wasn’t a big man, and he was in his 60’s then, but he wanted to help. He enjoyed the camaraderie of others in this joint effort, and he did in fact help.
My mother’s brother, Djuro Stojakovich, and my father had an intermittent but long and close relationship. They worked together on the house our family lived in and shared many hours of conversation about my father’s life both current and past and my uncle’s life mostly current.
In the early 1990’s when Yugoslavia was breaking up and things were very dangerous there, my uncle brought his daughter and granddaughter to stay with us. My father delighted in my uncle’s granddaughter, and she delighted in him. They stayed for some time and went back to Serbia when they thought it was safe to do so.
My father was sympathetic to the difficult situation my uncle and his family faced. My father was sympathetic to the suffering of Serbs in World War II and also felt threatened by the forces that visited that suffering upon Serbs. It’s easy to lead cheers for one’s own people, but instead my father felt genuinely sorry for the suffering of many Serbs and felt sorry for the Serbian people in general.
My father outlived most of his peers. There aren’t many Cetniks left. The organization of which he was vice-president, the Association of Ex-combatants of the Royal Yugoslav Army, routinely sent wreaths to the funerals of departed members. My father arranged to have a wreath sent in the name of the organization to the funeral of its president, Dane Sucevic, some years ago. The organization, at least in Chicago, has ceased working. I am grateful to Slavka Sucevic, Dane Sucevic’s daughter, for sending a wreath in the name of the organization to my father’s funeral.
My father died the evening of Sunday, April 18, 2010 of complications of heart failure.
For detailed information please contact: SVETA GORA FUNERAL HOME, Chicago, tel 773-588-2200.
Photo and Video
Draga tetka, Aco, Neno, dugo se nismo videli, ali saosecam u vasem dubokom bolu
Draga tetka Jejo,Aco, Nevenka ,primite iskreno saučešće povodom smrti teča Radeta. Saučestvujemo u Vašem bolu. U nedelju će mo održati pomen u Veterničkoj crkvi za pokoj duše teči Radetu.
Искрено саучешће поводом смрти деда Радета Саучествујемо са Вашим болом. Софија и Јовица Јевтић
Draga tetka, Aco, Neno, iskreno saucestvujem u vasem bolu
Draga tetka, Aco, Neno, iskreno saucestvujem u vasem bolu