It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather and dear friend to many. After a short illness, Zvonko passed away from heart failure at Burnaby Hospital.
He was an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary life for 98 years. He was always positive and saw the goodness in everyone. His generosity will not be forgotten by those he touched. He loved telling stories to his grandchildren. All of us were so lucky to have him in our lives.
Zvonko is survived by his loving wife of 69 years, Janja, daughter Vesna (Slav), son Tomislav (Monica), son Marijan (Christine), grandchildren Marina (Ivo), Steven (Gemma), Lisa (Eric), Nicole (Rajan), Katelin (Josip), Julie, and great grandchildren, Sofia, Mila, Dominik, Rosie, Stella, Hudson, Ivan and Olivia.
Zvonko was born on March 7th, 1924 in Poklecani, District of Rakitno in Hercegovina. He was the 4th child of Lucija Ivankovic and Jure Markota. Zvonko’s 3 older brothers did not survive the flu epidemic of 1925 and so he ended up being the eldest of the family. He had a sister Gospava who died in 2012 and a brother Jure who died in 1996.
Zvonko’s father died in 1932, so Zvonko had to assume the duties of “head of family” early on in life. He became the town barber, dentist and butcher in his teens. Zvonko, his mother, as well as his two younger siblings left Hercegovina in 1951 and moved to Pleternica, a small town in Slavonia, Croatia.
In 1952 Zvonko met the love of his life, Janja, in a small town called Pozega that is close to Pleternica. They were married on November 23rd of that year. They settled in Pleternica where they had 3 children: Vesna, Tomislav and Marijan.
Due to the political climate of the time, in 1959 Zvonko reluctantly left Pleternica for Austria where he spent 8 months in a refugee camp. He arrived in Canada by boat on May 1st 1960, first settling in Winnipeg and soon after in Vancouver. Zvonko’s family joined him in Vancouver in 1962. Without forgetting where he came from, he embraced Canada as his new home and appreciated everything that Canada had to offer and stood for.
Zvonko worked at a variety of jobs in Vancouver. He built his first home in Richmond in 1966 and later about a hundred more in the lower mainland. He was a teacher at heart and passed on his knowledge of construction, farming and European history to his children and grandchildren and instilled in them the importance of a strong work ethic. In Richmond the family had a small farm on 5 acres where they raised cows, pigs, rabbits, chickens as well as pole beans, cucumbers and strawberries. They had little money but always ate well from what they produced. They also shared their produce with neighbours and friends. In 1988 Zvonko and Janja moved to Burnaby.
Zvonko was one of the founding members of the Croatian parish in Vancouver and he worked tirelessly promoting the Croatian community amongst Canadians. He was also a member of the Croatian Peasant Party of Canada and served as the local and national president of that organization.
Our Zvonko, husband, dad and dida will remain in our hearts forever!
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