Dinka Velcich

Rođena:24.07.1924. (Vodice, Hrvatska)

Preminula:07.01.2024. (Novato, Kalifornija, Sjedinjene Američke Države)

Dob: 99

Dinka Velcich passed away peacefully on January 7, 2024, at Villa Siena Senior Living Community. Dinka was 99 years old and celebrated her 100th Christmas a few weeks prior.

She had a delightful day spent with family and playing with her great-grandchildren. Despite falling ill just after the new year, she held on to life until January 7th. On several previous occasions Dinka expressed her belief that she would pass away on the anniversary of her mother’s death, and miraculously, Jan 7th coincided with that very day.

Albert Einstein once said: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Dinka lived life according to the latter, and her remarkable journey that began on a sparsely populated island in the Adriatic Sea has been nothing short of miraculous.

Dinka was born on July 24, 1924, in the village of Vodice on the island of Cres, which at that time was part of Italy and today belongs to Croatia. Dinka was the youngest of five children born to Franja and Antice Velcich. The firstborn was her brother Francesco (1913), followed by her sister Antica (1915), and brothers Giuseppe (1918) and Giovanni (1920). Dinka’s father was an accomplished handyman and built their family home in the neighboring village of Predošćica. The family, along with Dinka’s grandfather (Josip), and her aunt and uncle (Teta Mare and Barba Tone) all moved into the new house in 1927. Dinka would call Predošćica home for the next 40 years and it would remain in her heart her entire life.

Dinka had a happy childhood, yet one that was also defined by hard work and hardship. She would rise at dawn to tend to livestock, crops, and household chores including bread and cheese making. She lost her mother at the age of fourteen. Then not long after, her three brothers set off to serve in World War II, requiring Dinka to take on more responsibilities at home.

As World War II came to an end, so too did Italy’s authority in Cres. In 1947, the island was assigned to communist Yugoslavia, and life became more difficult. At one point Dinka was pressured to recognize their regime and identify herself as a communist. When she refused, she was summarily jailed for her blatant defiance. Thankfully, her incarceration was short-lived.

Dinka first met Antonio “Tony” Velcich in her youth. The couple reconnected as young adults and married in 1951. Tony and Dinka were quickly blessed by the miracle of life with the birth of their children Maurice, Laura, and Tony Jr. The deliveries were managed by a midwife, and Dinka made sure Monsignor Joseph Bandera was on hand for each baptism.

After the war, Dinka’s brother Giuseppe “Joe” fled Cres, having grown averse to both the political climate and the living conditions on the island. Joe settled in Northern California, and in the fall of 1967, he sponsored Dinka and her family’s emigration.

The Twenty-one-day journey across the Atlantic aboard the ship Klek was the first time the family had the luxury of running water or electricity. Dinka was awed by the site of the Statue of Liberty as they arrived in New York Harbor. The family spent ten days with Tony’s brother, Domenico, before leaving for San Francisco to join Joe. They dropped their bags in San Rafael, a place they would call home until 1981.

Dinka’s first job in San Rafael was at Romulus Italian Restaurant. There, she took on an assortment of duties such as washing dishes and preparing recipes. Dinka eventually found work at Marin Laundry and Cleaners and she spent many years there up until the time of her retirement. However, the longtime owners of Romulus never forgot Dinka’s recipe for Gnocchi, and would occasionally request her to prepare it as a special dish for the restaurant.

Dinka and her family never shied away from hard work. She and Tony Sr. quickly saved enough to purchase their first home in the Bret Harte area of San Rafael. They hosted many parties there for their friends and extended family, with Dinka cooking up fabulous meals. In 1981 Dinka and Tony Sr. bought their second house in Bel Marin Keys, Novato. Both Dinka and Tony Sr. loved their sunny new home on the water, which reminded Dinka of Cres.

In 2018 Dinka moved into Villa Siena. The moment she reached the lobby she immediately felt as though she was home once more. The family viewed Villa Siena as another small miracle in Dinka’s life as it was the ideal home for Dinka. Faith was a very important part of Dinka’s life, and at Villa Siena she could sense the presence of God. She attended mass in their Chapel every morning, participated in rosary every afternoon, and was always surrounded by a wonderful community.

Dinka was preceded in death by her husband, Tony, in August 1993, and her son, Maurice, in January 2021. Dinka is survived by her daughter, Laura and her husband Marinko; son Tony and his wife Bonnie; her grandchildren, Marin and his wife Elizabeth, Tanja, Tony, Megan and Kevin, as well as her great-grandchildren, Luka, Niko and Ivan.

Dinka was caring, generous, a wonderful cook, amazing gardener, knitter, and wise. She cherished every moment spent with her close friends and family and is proud to be a source of inspiration to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Happiness is inevitable when a person is focused on the gifts they can share as opposed to the things they desire. Dinka lived a full and happy life and made sure those around her had a good life as well.

FOTO: Private

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