John Arthur Miscovich
1918 - 2014
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John Arthur Miscovich, 96, Alaskan pioneer, gold miner, and inventor passed away Friday, August 22, 2014 at his home in Orange, California with his loving wife and family by his side. Miscovich embodied the pioneer virtues of independence, honesty, and self-sacrifice. John's life, which is seldom paralleled in these days of high-tech, was one of initiative, hard work and ingenuity. The Miscovich family mined in Flat for more than 100 years. He was considered one of Alaska's experts on the mining of placer gold. The third of seven children, John was born March 7, 1918, to Alaska Mining Hall of Fame recipients Peter and Stana Bagoy Miscovich, in Flat, Alaska. Both parents came, first Pete in 1910 then Stana in 1912, from Croatia to Flat by steam wheeler via St Michaels and married in Iditarod, in December 1912. John continued his father's passion for gold mining his entire life. Miscovich completed school through the 8th grade in Flat's one-room schoolhouse. In late September 1933, he left Flat for the very first time with his older brother George. They made the bitter cold flight to Fairbanks, through the Alaska Range, in an open cockpit two-seater biplane piloted by a young bush pilot named Bob Ellis. Miscovich left Fairbanks High School after the 11th grade in 1935, to travel the lower 48, with his father seeking out relatives from the old country. There he would eventually meet Mary Stankovich, his devoted wife of 57 years. Miscovich was self-educated and curious. When asked about his educational background he would often tell people, with a smile, he graduated from the University of Flat, Alaska. Miscovich pioneered the invention of many hydraulic mining technologies. He held over 300 US and foreign patents but is best known for his 1946 Intelligiant© invention, a high-powered automatic hydraulic monitor first equipped on fire trucks and boats but now used worldwide from mining to the US-NASA space program. The Intelligiant could be seen working with fire rescue crews during the 9/11 New York City Twin Tower and the Fukushima nuclear disasters. Miscovich credited "standing at the handle of the old gold mining water giants, working ten hours a day as an young boy holding on for dear life" as the inspiration for his invention. After WWII, Miscovich traversed the States demonstrating the Intelligiant. In 1951, the NY City Fire Department added the Intelligiant to its fire boats and soon the Los Angeles Fire Department followed using the Intelligiant on both its fire trucks and boats. In 1968, a unique honor was granted to Miscovich's invention. The British Post Office issued a stamp commemorating emergency support vehicles using the Intelligiant. The Intelligiant made its home in many parts of Alaska from Nome to Juneau and helped build the Kotzebue and Sitka airports and the first ice island at Prudhoe Bay. John Miscovich was a dedicated American patriot and a WW II veteran. He served in the US Army 807 Engineering Battalion from 1941 to 1945. Reaching the rank of Staff Sargent John was stationed on Adak and Umnak in the Aleutian Islands. Recognized for helping famed aviator Wiley Post repair his airplane, the Winnie Mae, after Post's 1933 crash landing at Flat, Miscovich constructed a monument at Flat 50 years later to commemorate the first solo flight around-the world. The Winnie Mae now hangs in the Smithsonian with a plaque dedicated to the people of Flat for their help. As a mining consultant Miscovich travelled the world from Alaska to Australia, but he always returned to his beloved mining camp at Flat. There was a place at his mess hall table for everyone, from businessman to politician, old-timer to newcomer. Known for his kindness and generosity, Miscovich never turned away anyone needing his help. John was well-known for his gregarious nature and welcoming spirit. Visitors at Flat were always graciously received and many enjoyed his and Mary's hospitality. First time visitors were frequently surprised to encounter an educated and worldly gentleman in the old gold rush town of Flat. He captivated the hundreds of visitors, entertaining guests with his many humorous anecdotes of the Iditarod and characters of a by-gone era. He was sought out for his intimate knowledge of the Iditarod gold stampede and served as a close consultant to the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation. In 1957, John married Mary Stankovich, who immigrated from Imotica, Croatia in 1954 to California. He would bring his beautiful wife to the Alaskan bush. Together they raised their four children mining at Flat. He is survived by his loving wife, Mary; sons Peter and John Jr Miscovich; daughters Maria Obradovic and Sandra Stelmas; sons-in-law Matthew Stelmas and Blasko Obradovic; and his pride and joys, grandchildren, John Gregory, Sasha Anica and Addison Michelle. John always had a smile on his face. He was a kind, loving and well respected man. He will be dearly missed by his family and many friends. A service was planned in Orange, California.
Published in Anchorage Daily News on Sep. 3, 2014.
Memories & Condolences
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15 entries
September 12, 2014
My first field season in Alaska was spent in Flat. Getting to know John and Mary during that time was indeed a privilege. Dinners at their place, listening to John's stories about Flat and basically his life is something I will always remember. I was able to return to Flat several times since then including a couple of 4th of July celebrations. I always looked forward to getting back and catching up. I have many fond memories of Flat and spending time with John and Mary. I will always be grateful for that and the opportunity to get to know a truly unique individual.
Stan Dodd
September 11, 2014
In memory, my great grandfather barged the mighty Yukon and delivered fuel up the Innoko to Flat and guess who was there? The Miscovichs as Carey said in an earlier condolence John could be counted on!!!! Haan zaad lit lee we come from the river!!! People used to keep there word ! When you look up honesty in the dictionary there is my brother in laws picture! 1000 years from now they'll still talk about John! Rest in Peace brother! See you in Heaven!!!!!
Larry Frey
September 10, 2014
I had the pleasure and honor to get to know John and his wonderful family over many years in Alaska. I was hosted many times at the Miscovich's home in Flat where we ate delicious food and talked politics for many hours. I will always cherish those fond memories.
Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse
September 10, 2014
I was privileged to pass through Flat on several different occasions doing mineral exploration activities in the middle 80s and early 90s. It was an absolute pleasure to visit with John, Mary, Sandy and Peter (didn't know their other kids as well) on those occasions. One summer we spent considerable time in Flat looking for the mother lode to John's placer mine. We hired Mary to provide us fantastic breakfasts each morning. John could always be counted on to embellish us with great stories of his mining ventures, if he wasn't creating new ones. Drove up on our 4-wheelers one morning for breakfast, sleepily thinking I didn't remember any big dog they had - it was actually a dead black bear he had just shot off the roof of his home that morning. Later that summer we together ambushed a grizzly behind their home that had been pestering them. John was a passionate, knowledgeable, and very friendly guy who laughed easily (provided you weren't a State regulator). He was working on a book of his history in Flat. Did he ever finish it? Sorry we didn't find the mother lode, but we found it in him and his family.
Carey Cossaboom
September 10, 2014
John Miscovich had a strong influence on the direction of my life and I am truly grateful to him for this. John was one of Alaska's greatest and always a true and straight gentleman. His life was a blessing to all of us.
Jeff Keener
September 9, 2014
During the past 5 years, I met with John several times to discuss business. Each visit we quickly dispensed with the business, followed by hours of captivating mining stories from a bygone era in Alaska's history. I will miss the incredible detail, humor and passion that John had for the early days of Alaska gold mining. My sincere condolences to the Miscovich family.
John Woodman
September 8, 2014
I never met John but did know Howard and Donna Miscovich when they were living in Poorman. I was mining close by on Flat Creek and I will always remember using one of his Intellegiants with a serial number of 001 on it. We also used his hydraulic lift to feed the sluice box.
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Tim Doval
September 8, 2014
I consider myself lucky to have known John and enjoyed listening to his stories of life in the Last Frontier. A very pleasant gentleman, always with a smile and vibrant enthusiasm for life. Strong families ties and a true pioneer in the mining industry of Alaska. We are better people and this is a better place to live because of our friend, John Miscovich.
Bill Brophy
September 8, 2014
John was a wonderful man with a great spirit-- full of wisdom and kindness. May he rest in peace. I am thankful to have known him.

Ed Armstrong, Singapore
September 7, 2014
What a wonderful tribute to a person who sounds like an amazing gentlemen. Although I was born here, I've never been to Flat or met John and Mary. I've have heard so many good and kind things about them over the years that Flat is on my bucket list. My sincerest condolences to your entire family for the loss of a wonderful man. Hope that his quiet strengths will carry you through these difficult times.
Phyllis Tate
September 7, 2014
I'm sorry for saying Marilynn Zaiser and not Evelyn Zaiser Johns sister on my condolences the other day. From the Fbks- Nenana- Holy Cross- Flat crew God Bless!
Larry Frey
September 7, 2014
Another true Alaskan gone. John will be missed. He helped me, when I was wriing a family history story and my book on the History of the Fairbanks Fire Department, which I am still working on. Jack Hillman
September 7, 2014
Sorry For your lost
Maria Senra
September 3, 2014
As a 18 year old, I was flown to Flat with a group of Rockhounds from the Alaska Gem and Mineral society. My Mother was part of this group. The Miscovich's opened up their home and for a few days I got the education of a lifetime as John and his son Peter showed us their placer mine and all of the things that he had patends on. A wonderful family. My thoughts and prayers to the Miscovich's ....truly a great loss.
Kristi Jacobs
September 3, 2014
John and Mary were the kindest people I ever met. I was a nervous wreck when Tom invited them for dinner. I thought of fancy food but decided to make it plain and simple.
John you will be missed. and Mary keep you chin up.

Tom and I sent you our sincere condolences.
Tom, Martha Edwards
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