Slobodan Zelich

ZELICH, Slobodan, F., 88, Steubenville, passed away Tuesday, February, 5, 2013, at Trinity West Medical Center.

He was born December 16, 1924, in Zegar and raised in Sibenik, Dalmatia, the Adriatic coastal part of the former Yugoslavia. Preceding him in death were his father, Proto Pavle (Paul) Zelich, his mother, Milica Sekulich Zelich and his two sons, Milan and George, a brother, Milan (Mary) Zelich.

Surviving him are his wife of 65 years, Nevenka Torbica Zelich, a son, Paul of Steubenville, his daughter, Sonja (Clyde) DiAngelo of Steubenville, grandchildren, Danielle DiAngelo (Trevor) Kalinowski and Michael DiAngelo, two great grand children, Ty Angelo and Vinny Joseph Kalinowski, sisters, Mirjiana Rismondo and Duska “Diane” Milo, and many nephews and nieces.

Slobodan worked as a foreman for many years and retired from Trans Buckeye Sheet and Strip Steel Company.

During World War II, Yugoslavia became a deeply divided country of several factions, with brother fighting brother, depending on ideological alignments.

Slobodan joined the organized guerrilla fighters known as the Chetniks, detachments of the Yugoslav Army, led by Gen. Draza Mihailovic, who, as royalists, fought to preserve the crown of young King Peter II of Yugoslavia. The Chetniks battled the communist Partisans of Josip Broz Tito, as well as the fascist Ustase, allied to Nazi Germany. Near the end of the war, Vojvoda (Chief) Momcilo Djujic, sensing all was lost, marched his Dinara Division, to which Slobodan belonged, out of Yugoslavia, fighting his way with his men over snowbound mountains, leading a mixed body of 20,000 combatants and civilians, a long line of humanity, stretching for miles, girded by soldiers to the front, rear, and flanks. Slobodan and his future wife, Nevenka, possessing only what they were wearing and what they could carry, trudged through deep snow for hundreds of miles, eventually transiting the Istrian peninsula to the relative safety of Italy, where they spent time in displaced persons camps, then on to refugee camps in Germany, where they were married in Diepolz in 1947. They came to the United States in 1949, after burying their first born son, who had died of a fever in a postwar Germany sadly lacking in medicine.

Shortly after the war, Slobodan’s father, the Very Rev. Paul Zelich, was assigned a parish in Steubenville, Ohio, to serve as spiritual leader of the Serbian Orthodox faithful residing in the Ohio River Valley, and tasked with garnering funds with which to build a new church, the Holy Resurrection Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church, whose cornerstone was laid in 1947 and which still stands today on North Fourth Street. Slobodan organized a junior choir within the church community. Many of the junior choir members were to join his senior choir, the Petar Krstich Choir, whose helm he took in 1961 and directed until 2008. He instilled a strong sense of Serbian ethnic pride and identity in his singers, both young and old, with a genuine love for Serbian Orthodox Liturgical music, as well as his folk and patriotic music. Slobodan ended his career with his 100th composition entitled “Sonja.” The Petar Krstich Choir traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada, establishing a reputation as one of the finest choirs in the Serbian Singing Federation. Slobodan won numerous honors and awards within the Serbian Singing Federation, which he was a member of, and also the Serb National Federation Lodge 22.

He will be missed by relatives as the quintessential family man, by his church as a devout Eastern Orthodox Christian, and by his fellow singers as a catalyst for song.

Friends may call at Dunlope-Shorac Funeral Home, 215 Fernwood Road, Wintersville, OH, on Friday 4-8 p.m. On Saturday, visitation from 11 a.m. until the time of services at noon at Holy Resurrection Serbian Church with Very Rev. Rade Merick officiating. Burial at Holy Resurrection Cemetery.

Pomen services 7:45 p.m. Friday

The family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to Dr. Shoshi and his staff, Drs. Kahlil and Murty and the staff at Davita Dialysis, staff at Trinity West and also Acuity Specialty Hospital for their respectful care and compassion.

Memorial Contributions can be made to the Petar Krstich Choir or the Holy Resurrection Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church.

Offer condolences at