Martin Hrgovcic, M.D. 96, died on the evening of December 31, 2022, reuniting with his departed wife, Ruzica "Seka," on what would have been their 63rd wedding anniversary.
Martin was born the youngest of three sons on June 22, 1926, in the small Bosnian village of Dubrave, near the northeast border of present-day Bosnia and Croatia. His parents were poor but raised their children to love and value their Catholic faith and Croatian heritage. Those values guided Martin throughout his life.
Martin proved to be an excellent student. At age 10, his father enrolled him as a seminary student at the Franciscan High School in Visoko (near Sarajevo). The Franciscan priests he met there were a lifelong inspiration to him. He went on to study medicine at the University of Zagreb, beginning a long and successful career as a physician, specializing in oncology and hematology. He continued his education later earning a Doctor of Science degree also from the University of Zagreb.
In 1969, recognizing that both his and his family's opportunities for freedom and advancement were limited in communist Yugoslavia, Martin accepted a fellowship from the world-renowned M.D. Anderson hospital and moved his family to Houston.
There he continued his pioneering research on the effect of copper serum level on Hodgkin's Disease activity. Throughout his career he authored and co-authored numerous publications on the topic. After five years at M.D. Anderson, Martin joined the Diagnostic Clinic of Houston where he remained as a senior partner until his retirement at age 80. Martin adored the practice of medicine and missed it until his last breath. His patients adored him in return.
Martin married Mirjana Mucic in 1953. Their daughter Dubravka was only four months old when Mirjana died. Subsequently, Martin fell in love with and married one of Mirjana's friends, Ruzica "Seka" Loncarec on New Year's Eve 1959 and they had two more children, Mirjana and Hrvoje. Seka preceded Martin in death in March 2018.
Martin and Seka loved their adopted country, but never forgot their Croatian roots.
Martin was one of the founding members of the first Croatian Fraternal Union Lodge in Texas and the Croatian Club of Houston. The Croatian picnics hosted by Martin and Seka at their ranch in Industry, complete with lamb and pig roasts, were legendary.
During Croatia's war for independence in the 1990s, Martin and Seka were at the forefront of Croatian-American humanitarian efforts in Houston collecting food, clothing, medicines, medical supplies, and money for their war torn homeland.
Martin was an active member of St. Frances de Sales Catholic Church for more than 40 years, serving as Eucharist Minister for many years. After moving to the retirement community at the Village of Tanglewood in 2013, Martin and Seka became members of St. Michael's Catholic Church and were overjoyed when their long-time pastor from St. Frances became the pastor at St. Michael's.
Martin is survived by his children, Dubravka Romano and her husband, Terry Frakes, Mirjana Hrgovcic, and Hrvoje Hrgovcic. He is also survived by his grandson, John Joseph Romano and his wife, Lauren, and their children, John Stephen and Pearce Thomas Romano.
Martin lived a remarkable life filled with both great joy and heart-breaking sorrow. He achieved enormous professional success, but found the most satisfaction in the simple things, a weekend in the country, a good soccer match, especially if Croatia was playing, a "good steak," and "two fingers of red wine." His family is comforted by his own words proffered by him over Christmas a few years ago. "I've had a great life" he said. Indeed, he has.
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