Mary Harzich - Grand Marshall



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On Thursday, November 15, 2007, Mary reached her 102nd birthday. Four days later on Monday, November 19, 2007 she went to Our Father in heaven. Mary's family and the people of St. Jerome's celebrated Mary's funeral Mass on the eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King, Saturday, November 24, 2007. Mary was then buried beside her husband, John, at St. Mary's Cemetery. May she rest in God's peace.

Mary (Velcich) HarzichMary (Velcich) Harzich, was 102 years old and she was the oldest living parishioner of St. Jerome's Croatian Catholic Church. Mary was born November 15, 1905 in Beli, on the Island of Cres in Croatia. She had one brother who is long deceased. When Mary was three years old, her mother passed away at the age of 31. Several years later, her father went to America, and Mary and her brother were raised by her grandfather and her aunt.

When Mary was 15 years old, she came to America by boat called the "President Wilson" on November 1st, 1920, and lived in Chicago with her father on 25th Place near Princeton Avenue. Although Mary had graduated from grammar school in Croatia, her father enrolled her in Ward School, at 27th & Shields, to learn the English language.

At the age of 17, Mary met her husband, John, who also was born in Beli. They planned to get married a year later when Mary turned l8. However, the marriage was postponed due to the death of her father. He died at the age of 51. Three months later, on January 19, 1924, they were married in St. Jerome's Church at its new location on 2823 S. Princeton Avenue, and then moved into their first home at 26th and Princeton.

Mary and John had six children, Elizabeth, Mary (Pavela), John, Eleanore (Bedalow), Joanne (Sipich), and Joseph. Elizabeth, the eldest, passed away at the age of three from diphtheria. In 1934 they went into the tavern business which they operated for over 26 years. Then in 1962, John died of a heart attack.

At the age of 79, Mary was chosen as the Grand Marshall of St. Jerome's parade on "Velika Gospa", and led the parade on foot the entire route. She has been a member of St. Theresa's Altar Society, the Croatian Catholic Union Lodge 13, and is a member of St. Jerome's Ladies Auxiliary.

Mary lived on Princeton Avenue, baked bread and "pogaci", walked to church, and insisted on preparing meals for any of her children or grandchildren who would happen to stop by to visit her, which happened several times a week. She was extremely active and enjoyed family celebrations, as well as community functions.

All five of her children are still living. Mary has 17 grandchildren (2 of whom are deceased), and 14 great grandchildren. Mary has always been very faithful and very active parishioner. 

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