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I first met Ruska at her wedding with Uncle Mladja in Salonika. Since then, we’ve visited their home many times and enjoyed good conversation and great meals. I’ve always appreciated her honesty, knowledge, and her deep love for her family—especially her love and devotion to my uncle. Ruska was very well-educated, with a deep passion for Serbian history. A year ago when I had the opportunity to visit, I spent an evening discussing world issues with Ruska over two bottles of good red wine. Many times we would begin with different views, and I was always amazed at how conversing with her brought our perspectives closer together. I am blessed to be able to call her family, and I am so sorry she left us too soon. I wish Sava, Angie, and Uncle Mladja strength in this difficult time. With love, Rade with Slavica
It’s taken me some time to find the words for this. Although I’ve had only a few opportunities to spend time with my Aunt Ruska, I have known her for as long as I’ve had memories of family. As a child, my parents and I would drive to Chicago to spend a few days with the only other family we have on this continent. I loved it; as an only child and the daughter of immigrants, having family to visit, even if an 8 hour drive away, was a tremendous source of joy. Despite that I only had this opportunity half a dozen times, it’s impossible to forget the warmth and love with which Aunt Ruska always welcomed us. Yet what I admire about Ruska most is that she has always been a force of nature–a woman of undeniable strength. Her uncompromising sense of self and her powerful presence made her the exact kind of role model I’d want for any little girl or boy. She was unyielding in her beliefs and values, but her thirst for knowledge kept her at the forefront of contemporary thinking. I was blessed to have the opportunity to see Aunt Ruska last year, after many years of absence. Although our visit was brief, this gave me the chance to fully appreciate what a remarkable and rare person she was. She was an excellent conversationalist with a razor-sharp wit, and I am sure that given a good meal and plenty of Turkish coffee, we could have solved all the world’s problems over the course of a weekend. I will miss you dearly, Ruska, but I am grateful for the moments we had. Your name will be the first on my list of acknowledgments when I complete my doctorate. With Love, Alexandra
It is with heartfelt sadness that we have lost such a genuine person as Ruska. Ruska had such an admirable curiosity of life and intellect. I have always looked up to Ruska for her determination, fighting for what she believes in, and following her passions; she was a role model for myself and many others. She was so driven and focused on her work and family and so caring and compassionate to help others. I remember fondly our numerous family dinners and gatherings, especially Thanksgiving, when we would all engage in meaningful conversations often spearheaded by her vast knowledge of… everything! I loved her laugh and when she would let loose and sing, and of course when she would reminisce about the good ‘ol days in Serbia. With my passion for travel, she not only encouraged me, but she often engaged me with interesting historical facts about the country and opened my eyes to what I had or was about to explore. She inspired me to be a strong independent woman and I have been and will continue to be forever grateful for this. She had such a love for her kids and grandkids, it always warmed my heart to literally see her glowing when she was with them. Ruska will be greatly missed, her spirit will always be with us and I cherish the times we had together. Love always, Leno
Sometimes we are blessed to call someone family even though we are not related by bloodline. Ruska was always a part of my life, she was family to me. My father and Ruska went to medical school together, settling across the ocean in a new city, a new country, each raising a family. She knew me from the time I was born; our families spent every kids’ birthday together, every Slava, every Thanksgiving, our family was her family. My family was her family. Growing up with her in my life I feel blessed to have had her as a real-life role model. She was a force of nature! A fighter! She lived life on her own terms, I always looked up to her as a strong, powerful, intellectual woman who valued the mind above all else. I was always fascinated with her profession and respected her tremendously as a neurologist. I loved debating with her, having long conversations at the dinner table about so many different topics. I loved her wit and intellect and listened carefully to everything she said. There was always something to learn. I remember when I became a vegetarian at 16 she was supportive, and made me feel special, always making something incredible “for me”. Spending time at her dinner table, in her beautiful home, our families enjoying quality time together is something I will never forget. The last time I was home I got to surprise her! No one knew I was in town, my family and I kept it a secret and I will never forget her face when I ran into the garden shouting SURPRISE! Time with her was always quality time, I loved listening to her. Ruska taught me that being an independent woman and intellectual can have its challenges but that you must live life on your own terms. I looked up to her so much! I know she was very proud of me and the woman I became. She had very high expectations of me and that pushed me to strive for more, more for my mind. Always more – more reading, more knowledge, more more more! Ruska also taught me to be a proud Serb by teaching me about Serbian history when I was growing up and the importance of keeping our traditions. As I go back through a lifetime of memories with Ruska it warms my heart to know she saw me as a force of nature too, having her there as a constant inspiration in my youth, and throughout my life. Her smile, that gleam in her eyes, her laugh, I will cherish as much as everything she meant to me and stood for in this lifetime. I love you Ruska, you will be in my heart always.
From the first day to the last day, I love you.
We are very sorry to hear of Ruzica’s passing, she was Donna’s colleague for many years, and we both shared many Saints Days with her family and friends. We were happy to support the Lakota Law project in her name.
Ruska, oh Ruska. My mother considered Ruska to be one of her best friends, and just told me that she was heading over to visit with Ruska and Mladen at their house before they moved into a new home. Ruska had some books that she was donating to St. Sava Academy, and my mom asked to come pick them up herself. That day didn’t go as planned. For Ruska to leave us so suddenly comes as such a shock. Her death is a true loss to so many. I knew Ruska since I was little, and she was a very good friend, and a tough and conservative lady. She was cosmopolitan, yet profoundly proud of being a successful Serbian woman. She was supportive, yet pushed for independence. She was brilliant and educated, yet still knew how to have a fun time. She enjoyed word games, throwing little puzzlers at me in French and Russian, and could carry a tune. I fondly remember celebrating St. George’s Slava with her and her family at their home, even when she was being adventurous by trying out some quirky new recipes. She was a voracious reader and a prolific writer, and even as she got older, she still wanted to learn new word processing tips to simplify her academic-level writing on Serbian history and her profession, neurology, especially epilepsy and sleep science. It’s important and inspiring to me to see that she never slowed down in learning and sharing her knowledge with others. Though she was a graduate of the same medical school as my parents, I still sought her experience and wisdom when I had questions relating to anything neurological. Her decades-long career as a physician, professor, and researcher added to her intellectual wealth, and I trusted her with my family, friends and myself. It was especially reassuring when her advice was to just be calm and do nothing, but be patient and observe. Whether it was about a headache, a problem sleeping, or maybe even a weird tingle or sensation when one of my friends was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she was truly compassionate and professional, and showed remarkable patience to talk and teach us at our appropriate levels of understanding. It was one of the ways her gift of communication came through. She had immense love for her family and for those she held dear. She remained a pillar of love and strength for her husband, her daughter and son and their families through the best and worst of times. She would radiate her unique and infectious smile whenever she spoke about her grandkids and could hardly contain herself to show off pictures and videos of how sweet and smart they are. I wish her family support through this seemingly impossible and trying time. We loved her for the gem that she was, and will be dearly remembered. May her memory be eternal!
Dear Friends, as you may remember, your Mom talked to Tom about her friend’s daughter who had wanted to study in the US. By having Natasa stay with us for her senior year in high school we came to understand the value of exchange programs & went on to host 6 more students. This completely changed our family that now includes folks around the world. Ruska will always remain in my heart. With love JoAnn