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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.