On June 28th 2021 our beloved mom and “Baba”, Manda Kotarac in her 94th year of life, passed away peacefully in her home at Pioneer Ridge with her devoted and loving daughter by her side.
Manda was born on December 4th, 1927 in Lovinac Lika, Hrvatska. As a young women she moved to Zagreb where she started her career as a post office clerk and bookkeeper until her decision to make her journey to Canada. She landed in Port Arthur, Ontario on June 29th, 1957. Both of her parents were here at the time, her mission was to earn enough money so that she could help pay the way for her parents to return to their homeland and reunite with family. This she accomplished and more, working as a bar maid at the Princess Hotel to start and living on Nugent Street in Port Arthur where she met her husband to be, Branko. They married on December 27th 1958 and so her story begins.
Manda and Branko wasted no time in their decision to start a family. Two sons and one daughter in the span of 24 months. It was a busy few years for Manda and Branko raising three kids and finding their way in a new country. Her strength, courage, and stamina to this day leaves me in awe of her. Manda continued to nurture her family whilst finding employment to better the lives of her three children. With courage and determination, she found employment as a custodian with the Lakehead Board of Education after numerous other jobs in between. It was not easy securing employment when there was a language barrier and new customs to navigate, however Manda's perseverance, work ethic and motivation secured her a position and she was able to retire from her custodian duties in 1987, earlier then expected.
Mom loved to spend time with her family, as long as she could find ways to help make our lives easier, simpler, happier and comfortable; she was in her glory. As we say- “What her eyes saw, her skilled hands did”. In my eyes she was master of all. From her culinary skills, to making her famous apple and cheese strudels, baking goodies and traditional Croatian cooking, crocheting, needle point, knitting, painting, detailing vehicles, landscaping; Mom was up for anything and never met a challenge she could not overcome. During her retirement years she loved to travel. Hawaii, California, Las Vegas, Florida, Croatia, British Columbia all of which she enjoyed immensely, however her heart was always where her children and grandchildren were, this is what gave her the most comfort and happiness. She was blessed with four grandchildren, all of whom she adored and they her.
Mom was a member of the Croatian Home Society and the Croatian Catholic Church where she loved to sing in the ladies choir and be part of the church and social activities. Her trust in God and attending church every Sunday gave her strength and hope. It also rekindled our faith and brought us all closer to her and made our Sundays all the more special. Praying together and afterwards spending time with Mom and Tata at the local coffee shop, this became our tradition for many years.
Mom was the pillar and anchor of our family and we miss her immensely, more then words can relay. The past 5 and a half years she made her home Pioneer Ridge. There we visited her each day and ensured she was happy and comfortable and that with her declining health, she would never forget us nor feel alone; and she never did.
Manda is survived by her two loving sons, Mike (Lynda), Zdravko (Loretta), and her one and only beloved daughter Ann (Kazimir). Her grandchildren Cassandra, Justyn (Amy), Zachary (Megan) and Jesse. Her great grandchildren Niko, Nevin, Noah and Vaydah. Numerous nieces and nephews in Croatia.
Predeceased by her two sisters, Anka and Maria, father Peran and mother Marta, brother, Stipe and Ivan, nephew Ado and most recently her beloved husband Branko in 2018.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, July 6th beginning at 12:00 Noon with Words of Tribute offered at 1:00 p.m. in the Chapel of Harbourview Funeral Centre. Services will follow, leaving the Harbourview Funeral Centre at 1:30 p.m., to the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary Croatian Catholic Church, 479 Oliver Road, for the Mass to be celebrated by Rev. Francisco Blazek beginning at 2:00 p.m. Entombment will follow in Our Lady Charity Mausoleum, St. Andrew's Cemetery.
Due to current gathering restrictions, space is limited. Please call the funeral home at 346-9880 in advance if you wish to attend either function.
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