Milan Opacich

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  • "Every time I play my Prima, my thoughts take me back to..."
    - Djuro Ivancevic
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  • "Roz I was sorry to hear about Milan, and he will be missed...."
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    - Rose Taylor
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Milan Opacich, age 84, of Schererville, Indiana and a lifelong resident of Northwest Indiana, passed away on January 21, 2013 at home in the presence of his family. Milan was born in Gary, IN April 12, 1928 to Mile and Roza Opacich. He graduated from Lew Wallace High School in 1947 and remained in close contact with many of his high school friends over the years. After high school, he was employed at Gary Screw & Bolt for 11 years as a tool and die maker, then served the City of Gary as a fireman on the Gary Fire Department for 20 years retiring in 1978 as a Lieutenant. Milan became a Master Luthier, building stringed musical instruments, particularly those in the tamburitza family. He performed as a tamburitza musician for 60 years retiring from active playing in 2006. He taught guitar building classes at Purdue University Extension for six semesters and for the last 8 years taught classes in instrument building for Joblink-Leon Lynch Learning Center passing on his skills to many steelworkers through the continuing education program at Arcelor-Mittal and US Steel. He was a regular columnist for the cultural magazine, Serb World, USA, for 28 years featuring tamburitza musicians and orchestras and the history of Slavic music from the late 1800's to the present in America. He was a consummate storyteller and loved to regale his listeners and readers. Over the years, Milan received much recognition for his work. He was the subject of many television news and feature stories. His instruments have been displayed in several galleries and museums around the United States including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institutes in Washington, D.C., the Roy Acuff Museum in Nashville, TN, Columbia University in Chicago, IL, and the Kohler Gallery in WI. He participated in several Smithsonian events in Washington, D.C., displaying and demonstrating his handmade instruments at festivals. He received many awards for his accomplishments including the Quality of Life Award from Northwest Indiana, the Community Linkage Award from Ivy Tech, and the designation of Master Artist by the Traditional Arts of Indiana. He was inducted into the Tamburitza Hall of Fame in 2002 and received the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the Folk & Traditional Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts in 2004 for his lifelong dedication in preserving his Slavic heritage, building tamburitza instruments, and teaching his craft. Milan was a devoted husband, father, uncle, and friend. He was a dedicated member of St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church. Deeply committed to the preservation of his Slavic heritage, he was a founding member of the St. Sava Historical Society documenting the history of the early immigrants and pioneers of St. Sava and Old Gary and all they accomplished. Milan was a member of the Tamburitza Association of America (TAA) and of the St. Sava Historical Society, a supporting member of the Karageorge Choir, a founder of the St. Sava Youth Tamburitza Orchestra, and a past member of the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans. He lived a rich and fulfilling life as a musician, craftsman, historian, author, teacher, researcher, and music preservationist. Milan is survived by his loving wife, Rosalyn (Nicolich) of 61 years; daughter, Dr. Karin Opacich of Chicago, IL; Kumovi; loving nieces and nephews; great nieces and nephews; one great-great niece; and several cousins. Also surviving are sisters-in-law: Violette Kristoff and Donna Nicolich; and many dear lifelong friends. Milan was preceded in death by his parents: Mile and Roza Opacich; and brother, Robert (Barbara) Yamtich. Funeral services will be held Friday, January 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM directly at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, 9191 Mississippi Street, Merrillville, IN with V. Rev Marko Matic Officiating. Internment, Calumet Park Cemetery, Merrillville. Visitation will be Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Burns Funeral Home, 10101 Broadway, Crown Point. A Pomen Service will be offered Thursday at 7:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Sava Church, St. Sava Historical Society, Traditional Arts of Indiana, or Hospice of the Greater Calumet Region. For further information please call Savich & Semplinski Funeral Directors of Burns Funeral Home (219) 769-0044.


Funeral Home
Burns Funeral Home & Crematory
10101 Broadway
Crown Point, IN 46307
(219) 769-0044
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Published in The Times from Jan. 23 to Jan. 24, 2013
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