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John Arthur Miscovich


1918 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
John Arthur Miscovich Obituary
John Arthur Miscovich, 96, Alaska pioneer, gold miner, and inventor passed away Friday, Aug. 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.
John was born March 7, 1918, to Alaska Mining Hall of Fame recipients, Peter and Stana Bagoy Miscovich, in Flat. Both parents came, first Pete in 1910 then Stana in 1912, from Croatia to Flat by steam wheeler via St. Michael's. They married in Iditarod in 1912. John continued his father's passion for gold mining his entire life.
Miscovich completed school through the eighth grade in Flat's one-room schoolhouse. In late September 1933, he left Flat for the first time to continue high school in Fairbanks. He made the trip in a biplane with young bush pilot Bob Ellis. Miscovich left 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 throughout his life. When asked about his education, he would tell people with a smile he graduated from the University of Flat Alaska.
Miscovich pioneered the invention of many hydraulic mining technologies. He held more than 300 U.S. 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 U.S. 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. The Intelligiant made its home in Alaska from Nome to Juneau and helped build the Kotzebue and Sitka airports and the first ice island at Prudhoe Bay.
Miscovich credited "standing at the handle of the old gold mining water giants, working long hours 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 New York City Fire Department added the Intelligiant to its fire boats, and soon the L.A. Fire Department followed, using the Intelligiant on both 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. 
John Miscovich was a dedicated American patriot and a WWII veteran. He served in the U.S. 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 traveled 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 emigrated from Croatia to California in 1954. He would bring his beautiful wife to the Alaska 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 joys, grandchildren, John, Sasha and Addison.
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.
Please visit www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsminer to sign an online guest book.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Sept. 7, 2014
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