Sunday, 26 April 2009

George J. Prpic, Ph.D - A Biography

George J. Prpic, Ph.D

November 16, 1920 - April 23, 2009

From the Adriatic to Lake Erie...
A Celebration of a Life of Freedom, Patriotism and Love.

George J. Prpic, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of History
John Carroll University

Biographical Summary

George (Jure) Prpic was born on November 16,1920 in Djala, Banat where his Croatian
parents lived at the time. He grew up and was educated in Croatia, graduating
from the Real Gymnasium in Požega in 1939. At the Croatian University in Zagreb he received his diploma in Jurisprudence in 1944. He started to write and publish while he was still a teenager. At the same time he was busy painting and drawing which he continued throughout his life.

In the spring of 1945, when Croatia was subjugated by communism, GJP settled as a refugee in Austria. He studied history at the University of Graz. In May 1950, he emigrated to the United States, first to Cincinnati, then to Cleveland, Ohio. In January of 1951 he married Hilda Hermann (Slovenian-born) who had emigrated to Montreal, Canada. They had first met in Graz, Austria. For 6 years, George was a factory worker like thousands of other newcomers, and found work at Cleveland Twist Drill. At the urging of Hilda, he began to study part-time at John Carroll University. In June of 1956, he received his Masters degree in History. He and Hilda then moved to Washington DC. At Georgetown University he majored in American history. Supported by his working wife (there were no scholarships at that time) he earned his PH.D. in June of 1959. His doctoral dissertation (over 650 pp.) topic was “The Croats in America”

George taught history at John Carroll University in Cleveland from 1958 until 1989.
His courses included: Historical Method, Modern Middle East, U.S. Immigration and
the Balkans. Dozens of graduate students received their degrees under his guidance.
At the same time, he was a member of JCU’s Institute for Soviet and East European
studies. He belonged to a number of professional organizations and was cofounder of the
Association for Croatian Studies. He extensively lectured at various forums, panels, and
conventions. George published many books, scholarly articles, essays, and reviews in both
English and Croatian, with some translations in Spanish and German. Among his books
are: A Century of World Communism (1973,1975); The Croatian Immigrants in America
(1971); South Slavic Immigration in America (1978); Croatia and the Croatians (1982);
with Hilda Prpic Croatian Books and Booklets Written in Exile (1973 US, 1990 Croatia).

In Croatian, he published Posljednji Sviban, a book of poetry in Rome in 1973 and in
Zagreb in 1990. Partly in Croatian and partly in English is his Baklja u Luci-The Torch
in the Harbor: Poems Notes, Drawings (1989). He illustrated both books. “The Torch”
depicts his immigrant experience.

In 1969, George, Hilda and their two children visited Croatia. In 1993, they again paid
a visit to the now “liberated” homeland. In November of 1997, Hrvatska Matica Iseljenika
published his lifework Hrvati u Americi (480 pgs.); George, as Matica’s guest, was
present at the introduction of his book and was subsequently interviewed by the media
and warmly welcomed in Zagreb and Croatia. “We were happy to see a liberated Croatia
for who’s freedom we had struggled over the decades. Thank God!” In 2000 George
coauthored, with Ivan Miletic and Ivan Cizmic, From the Adriatic to Lake Erie: a history
of Croatians in Greater Cleveland. The book was published by the American Croatian
Lodge in Eastlake, Ohio and by the Institute for Social Sciences in Zagreb.

In his retirement in Euclid, Ohio George continued to write and to be a resource to fellow historians, media sources and educational institutions in his various areas of expertise. Over the past decade he has been sending his vast collection of books, papers, archives and personal notes to the Croatian Archive in Zagreb. This body of work is in the capable hands of his former student and long-time colleague, co-author and friend, Ivan Miletic.

At 88 years of age, George passed away peacefully on April 23, 2009 at 2:30 PM. Hilda and his children were at his side.

Personal notes on my father the historian.

This biography is the product of various sources from working copies George had used over the years. I am certain of, and will be grateful for the corrections I am sure to receive. In preparing this document I find myself seemingly drawn into the process that was his life’s passion. As with many writers, historians, and artists, Dad had an immense treasure trove of piles, boxes, shelves, shoeboxes, envelopes, filing cabinets, various pieces of furniture stuffed with papers, notebooks and folders. As Maya and I begin to mine his collective artifacts, I feel as if we are in a way taking on his roll as historical explorers.We began this process wishing to show many of his photos, but soon realized that this is an immense body of images, artwork, drawings, and writing.

Jure was also a prolific artist, working in a number of media. We found that we quickly had
to narrow our scope. We hope to share many images and works in the near future.

I find it necessary to add some personal observations to these historical facts. George, my father, was a brilliant scholar. He could go into his mind and produce data and lay bare history with conviction and verbose accuracy. His dedication to the intellectual pursuit of writing as a means of fostering freedom in his native Croatia, was as strong as his gratitude and patriotism for America, his second country and home. Freedom is a state of being he greatly treasured.

I was also fortunate to see a side many did not. The gentle soul that he was. He cherished Hilda and Maya and myself, and all of his family, He valued his friends and many colleagues at John Carroll and around the world. I remember the constant flow of letters from far away places, in various languages (Jure spoke 5), and phone calls from around the world. His hand-colored
(each one) Christmas cards are a fond memory. He was a soft spoken, supportive, tolerant, yet
private individual, and he was generous with his time and money. George gave to dozens and
dozens of individual charities and causes, showing no agenda in his generosity.

He showed a quiet satisfaction in his accomplishments and was settled into a simple lifestyle with simple needs. He loved his various homes and yards over the years, and planted on each, a willow tree, all of which are now beautiful specimens. He received great pleasure from his Christmas trees, and in correspondence with his family around the world. I have been able to
share his love of art, and we have had the great pleasure to visit Croatia. I have seen the many places he passed through... where he was educated, where he met my mother... I now understand more of his mind, and of both his and the world’s need for historical record; This power of truth in knowledge; The great and the small mysteries to be uncovered: The need to understand clearly what had been, so as to have a better understanding of the present and future.

I will remember him as gentleman, reserved but steadfast in his faith and in his personal
convictions. He was kind, generous, patient and comfortable with anyone he had dealings with.

He has truly been the greatest example of the human traits of gentleness, tolerance, gratitude, generosity and unwavering love; to God, his dual homelands, and to his family. Truly his is a life to celebrate. Živili tata!

Frank Prpic, Cleveland, OH. April 25, 2009

George J. Prpic Partial Bibliography

- From the Adriatic to Lake Erie: A History of Croatians in Greater Cleveland by Cizmic,
Ivan; Miletic, Ivan; Prpic, George J. 2000

- Hrvati u Americi (Croatian Edition) 1997

- Prose, poetry, drawings : Proza, lirika, crteži 1983

- Croatia and the Croatians: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography in English 1982

- South Slavic Immigration in America 1978

- The Croatians in New Jersey 1977

- Role of the returned emigrants in Croatia: A historical assessment 1977

- The modern Middle East: A reference guide 1977

- Croatia and Hungary duringthe Turkish era (Southern-Hungarian and Balkan studies) 1973

- Tragedies and migrations in Croatian history 1973

- Ireland, Croatia and Bangladesh 1973

- Posljednji Svibanj Hrvatske knjige i knjižice u iseljeništvu

- Croatian books and booklets written in exile 1973, G. Prpic and H. Prpic

- Nationality studies on Southeastern Europeans in America: With emphasis on Yugoslavia -1972

- Bibliography on South Slav immigrants in America and their historical background 1972

- The Croatian Immigrants in America. 1971

- Rev. Juan M. Ratkay, S.J.;: First Croatian missionary in America, 1647-1683 1971

- A Century of World Communism 1970

- The Croatian publications abroad after 1939;: A bibliography. 1969

- Communism and nationalism in Yugoslavia 1969

- Fifty years of world communism, 1917-1967; A selective chronology, 1967

- The Croatian immigration to America after 1945 . 1967

- Eastern Europe and world communism; A selective annotated bibliography in English 1966

- East Central Europe and its Sovietization; A selective bibliography 1966

- French rule in Croatia: 1806-1813 1964

- Maximilian Vanka, his contribution to the arts of America 1958

I am with you always!
To those I love and to those of you who love me.

When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have many things to see and do.

You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears.
Be happy that we had so many years.

I gave you my love, you can only guess,
how much you gave me in happiness.

I thank you for the love you’ve shown,
but now it’s time I travel on alone.

So grieve a while for me if grieve you must.

Then let grief be comforted by trust.

It’s only for a while that we must part,
so bless the memories within your heart.

I won’t be far away, for life goes on.

So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can’t see or touch me, I’ll be near.

And if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear
all my love around you soft and clear.

And then, when you must come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile and say
“Welcome Home.”

Author Unknown

Ja sam s tobom uvijek!
S onima koje volim i s vama koji volite mene.
Kada nestanem, odriješi me, pusti me da idem.
Trebam Puno toga vidit’ i uciniti.
Ne veži se uz mene sa suzama.
Sretan budi zbog mnogih zajednickih godina.

Dao sam ti svoju ljubav, ti možeš tek slutiti
koliko si mi srece dala.
Hvala ti za svaki izraz ljubavi,
ali je vrijeme da dalje putujem sam.
Oplakuj me samo na cas, ako žalovati moraš.
Potom utješi žalost u vjeri.
Samo na casak se rastati moramo,
zato blagoslivaj uspomene u srcu svome.

Necu biti daleko od tebe, jer život ide dalje.
Trebaš li me, zovni, i ja cu doci.
Ne možeš me vidjeti niti opipati, ali blizu sam.
Ako slusas srcem svojim cut' ceš moju ljubav
oko sebe, svuda, nježnu i shvatljivu.
A poslije, kada sama moraš doci 'vamo
pozdravit cu te smješkom i rijecima,
“Dobro došla Doma”

Croatian Translation by Hilda Prpic

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Servicios jurídicos – Traducciones – Propiedades inmuebles – Bienes raíces –Sucesiones – Poderes – Inscripción de propiedades – Contratos – Testamentos

Legal services: Civil and commercial – Translations – Real Estate – Probate Proceedings – Powers of Attorney – Property registration – Contracts – Wills

Pravne usluge – Prijevodi – Nekretnine – Ostavinski postupci – Punomoći – Upis pravo vlasništva – Ugovori– Oporuke

Dra. Adriana Smajic – Abogada y Traductora pública de idioma croata – Attorney at Law – Odvjetnica – Abogado croata – Traductor croata

Joza Vrljicak – Master in Economics (Concordia U, Montreal)

(+54-11) 4811-8706 (+54-911) 6564-9585 (+54-911) 5112-0000


Laraine McCafferty said...

Hello Maya and Prpic Family,
I was blessed to have met your father as my "Terrorism" instructor at John Carroll. The first thing that struck me about him was his warm, kind voice. I knew I had heard that voice before. It was rather unsettling, having lost my own father the year before. You see, he too was born in Zagreb. His mild-mannered, gentle way about him (even in the midst of the chaos of 8 children!)was just like your father. How much your father reminded me of him. I enjoyed staying after in class or coming early just to hear
his voice. Unfortunately, I never had the nerve to talk to him about Yugoslavia. When my father left, as a teen (I think), he changed his name to get out of the country (as communism settled in), and never really looked back. I believe many in his family perished under the new regime. He could never speak of it. I will never know my heritage.
You are blessed to be left with such knowledge and deep love.
When I saw his name in the obits, it brought a tear to my eye, some 25 years later.
And Maya, I haven't seen you in many years (we went to JCU at the same time...STP!) but I imagine that you've turned into quite a wonderful person with a man like your father as your coach.
Deepest Sympathy,
Laraine Alexander McCafferty

David Berton Belasco said...

Hello Prpic family, I am so very sad to read today that George has left us. Dr. Prpic was always so kind and loving to me. He always encouraged me to do my very best academically. There was nothing I could not confide with him. He was like family to me and helped me to develop the confidence to go on and to get my Ph.D.. May God bless you and keep you. David Belasco. Ph.D. JCU 1974-1978.