Zrinka I Dzinich (1942 - 2018)

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Longtime Juneau resident Zrinka I. Dzinich died peacefully at home with her family by her side on January 18, 2018, after a yearlong struggle with pancreatic cancer. A funeral Mass will be held at St. Paul's Catholic Church in the valley, Juneau, Alaska, on Saturday, February 17, 2018, at 1 p.m., followed by a celebration of life/reception at the nearby Hurlock Hall (Parish Hall). Friends and family are welcome.
She was preceded in death by her mother Ivanka Simatic and father Nikola Simatic.
She is survived by her siblings Peter Simatic and Astrica Simatic; husband Kurt S. Dzinich Sr.; children Kurt S. Dzinich Jr., Lara B. Dzinich and son-in-law John R. Moran Jr., Sonia J. Dzinich; and grandchildren Derek R. Dzinich, Sebastian K. Bradley, Cassie J. Dzinich, Willow M. Bradley, and Sayja S. Bradley. In addition, she has many extended family members living in Bosnia & Hercegovina, Croatia, France, Canada and Florida.
Zrinka was born in Sisak, Croatia to Ivanka Scarpa and Nikola Simatic during WWII. Following the war, she was forced to flee to Austria with her mother and siblings where they were taken in by a farm family while awaiting entry into the U.S. as refugees. Her father was killed while trying to join them in Austria. They crossed the Atlantic in a troop transport and she entered America as a ten-year-old. She arrived in Chicago, with her mother, brother, and sister in 1952. She was placed into an orphanage with her siblings because their mother had to work two jobs. They were allowed weekend visits only.
She attended a Catholic boarding school and convent in Indiana and was slated to become a nun. After graduation, she decided to take a year off to spend time with her mother before taking her vows. During this time, she also became a U.S. citizen in 1957. It was during this time that she met her future husband and they became engaged just before he was called to active duty and shipped off to France with the U.S. Army. On June 15th 1963, they were married in Chicago and then returned to France together aboard the Queen Mary. From here on she would become part of her husband's military life and despite many challenges, excelled at it. From France, they were assigned to the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana where her son was born at nearby Chanute Air Force Base. Next, she lived in Chicago with her mother and father in-law while her husband was deployed to Vietnam from 1966 until 1967.
Upon his return, they were assigned to Fort Belvoir VA where her two daughters were born. When her husband was again deployed to Vietnam from 1969-1970, she stayed in Sterling VA. Upon his return, they were assigned to the Juneau Resident Engineer Office, Corps of Engineers, Alaska District, in charge of building the Snettisham Hydroelectric Power Project. The family drove cross country to Prince Rupert, Canada where they boarded the ferry TAKU to Juneau, Alaska. During the next three years, she cared for her family, worked for Lucas Motors, fell in love with Alaska, and the family chose to become permanent residents of the State.
In 1973, Zrinka and family were redeployed to Goeppingen, West Germany and left Juneau with a heavy heart, promising to return. In 1976, the family was again redeployed to the Army's Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. That was followed with another, final assignment to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin in 1979. In 1981, her husband decided to retire from the Army and accept a job with the Alaska State Legislature in Juneau Alaska.
Zrinka and the kids joined her husband there in January 1982 where she was to display her exceptional multitasking talents as a working mom of three teenagers, helping to home care first for her in-laws, and then for her mother and sister. During that time, she managed to obtain a Master's degree in Education from University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) in 1985. While she greatly enjoyed working as the Executive Secretary to the UAS Chancellors, she always aspired to be a teacher and finally became one in 1991, teaching at Juneau-Douglas High School. She taught business and English classes, where she excelled in helping her students do their best. In addition, she was heavily involved in organizing many social school events for students and staff. While she enjoyed teaching, shortly after the arrival of her first two grandchildren, she retired in 1999 so that she could fully enjoy being a grandmother par excellence.
During her time in Juneau, and until the very end, she was full of energy, life, and an inspiration to her family, extended family members, and many friends and acquaintances. She was a dedicated, active member of the Catholic Church, UAS Alumni Association, and the Juneau Yacht Club. She was treasurer for the Catholic Youth Ministry, a passionate member of the church choir and a Eucharistic Minister. At the same time, she was the social event organizer for the Juneau Yacht Club. She also enjoyed playing piano at the Juneau Pioneer Home and annually held a palachinka (Croatian crepes) party for the residents and staff. She loved hosting large family holiday dinners, always including extra room for friends. In addition to being a full-time mother, wife, working, and advancing her education, she was into many activities and hobbies. She loved traveling & visiting extended family in Croatia, Bosnia & Hercegovina, France, Austria and Germany. She was an excellent skier and loved all types of dancing. Additionally, she participated in tennis, skating, running, racquetball and sailing/boating/fishing. Once retired she enjoyed cruising life with her husband and completed over 14 cruises, including their favorite 5 round trips to Hawaii. She completed her last 19-day round trip cruise to Panama in November 2017, and most importantly enjoyed having a balcony all the while busily planning another Hawaii cruise in March of 2018… She was always full of energy and on the go. Her warm smile, sunny nature and willingness to offer a helping hand touched all who met her. Her exemplary life was cut short by a very aggressive pancreatic cancer, and she will be forever missed….
In accordance with her wishes she was cremated and will be buried at the Arlington National Cemetery with her husband at a future date… There will be a memorial plaque in the Alaskan Memorial Park in Juneau, Alaska. For viewing the obituary, posting memories, and photos, go to www.legacyalaska.com.
Religious Service Information
St Paul's Catholic Church
9055 Atlin Dr
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 789-5529
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Published in The Juneau Empire from Feb. 13 to Mar. 12, 2018
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