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.