Wednesday, 17 December 2008

In Memory, STEVO JAKŠIĆ (1938 - 2008)

Stevo Jakšić, my father


1.10.1938 - 29.6.2008

This blog post is dedicated to my father who passed away this year in June. He was 69 years old and had been suffering from heart problems before he left us. He was a seller of antique watches and was exceptionally skillful at repairing them.

He was born a year before the Second World War began in Europe. He, like his two brothers and two sisters, was born on a hill called Šibulja near the village of Malovan in the Gračac municipality located in southern Lika. During that great war, his father took him and his family many kilometres north to take refuge in a little village in western Bosnia called Mišljenovac in the Cazinska Krajina, and there they managed to avoid the gruesome atrocities committed by the fascist Ustaše that took the lives of many of his fellow Serbs throughout Lika and the wider Independent State of Croatia. Had he and his family not survived that aweful annihilation, I would never have been born! And not just me, but many others!

After the war was over and the Partisans had won, his family returned to Šibulja, and life was tough living there surrounded by wild untamed nature and far from any sign of civilization! The Winters were ice cold with snow a metre to two metres high, and the Summers were scorching hot. My dad went to school in another nearby village called Vučipolje and later finished 8-year school in Gračac, following which he did his conscription service for the Yugoslav people's Army ('Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija') in his early twenties. And for four to five years after that, he was a postman serving Gračac and the wider municipality. Even now he is known to many from the Gračac area as Stevo Poštar ('Postman Steve')!

My dad in the sixties
He left Lika for England in 1965, settling in Bedford, where there were quite a few Serbs who settled there following WW2 and others who came in the 50s and 60s like himself. He lived with his brother Adam and his wife Vida, and worked in the brick factory there.

In 1968, Adam died aged only 44, while later in the year my father married his first wife Persida, a woman from Niš in Serbia. They moved to London and later settled in Acton, where they had three daughters, my half-sisters. He spent many a Saturday on the world-famous Portobello Road Market in Kensington, London, selling antique watches and mingling with other antique dealers. He met many people there from all over the world and he himself was known to many people. While at home, he would mend, repair and even paint the dials of the many pocket watches he sold through the years, that themselves travelled the length and breadth of the world with their buyers!

Unfortunately, his marriage to Persida did not last and they divorced in 1985. After the divorce, my father went back to Gračac, where he met my mother Milica from the nearby village of Štikada. They married in November of the same year, and in February 1986 I was born in Zagreb, the capital of the then Socialist Republic of Croatia ('Socijalistička Republika Hrvatska') in the Yugoslav federation.

When I was five months old, they moved into a flat in Greencroft Gardens, London, and stayed there for two years, eventually buying a house in a town called Luton, 31 miles north of the city of London and 18 miles south of Bedford. My father continued to travel to London every Saturday to sell antique pocket watches to the passers-by of Portobello Market, until 2001 when he switched to ebay, and continued his profession on the internet super-highway! And the pocket watches he sold on ebay were packaged and sent to all the four corners of the world. Some of them are even in museums.

I grew up living with both my parents in Luton for twenty years. I and my mum also travelled far and wide with my dad across Europe in a number of Volvo estate cars! But he used to have two Vauxhall Senators many years ago before the Volvos.

Religiously speaking, my dad was an atheist, because he hated the religious conflicts that caused so much suffering to humanity, especially religious division that created deep hostilities between nations that are culturally and linguistically the same, such as the Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks. And politically speaking, he was a left-wing socialist, supportive of workers' rights and dignity and resentful of wealthy, selfish Western capitalists. And just so you know, Marshall Josip Broz Tito was definitely one of his heroes!


On the 29th of June of this year 2008, my father Stevo Jakšić departed this world following a deterioration of health, which made his daily life very difficult to live. He is sorely missed by many of his closest relatives, and fondly missed by many more who knew him from Portobello market and back home by his fellow countrymen and extended family.

Počivaj u miru tata - Neka ti je vječna slava i fala od sina svoga!

Edited 28th December, 2008; 10th May, 2011


Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful memorial to your father.

Balkan Ⓐnarchist said...

Thank you Owen.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you've turned up at Dan's blog. I understand why you've been so quiet for so long. It must have been a difficult time. But it sounds like you have good memories of your father.

Anonymous said...

Hi alan this is kerim I think that was great tribute to your father I hope to see you soon in Christmas we should definitely meet up.

Unknown said...

Please accept my sympathie. Dragan (Brussels)

Anonymous said...

Dear Alan,

I'm Dora have my sympathy

George said...

My condolencies Alan. I knew your father when i lived in Gracac but i didnt know you where his son. Do you have a cousin called Radoslav Jaksic?

Balkan Ⓐnarchist said...

Thank you George for your kind words. Yes I do have a cousin called Radoslav, though we tend to call him Radovan or "Pade"! Here's my e-mail address, contact me and share with me your memories of my father, I'd like to hear them:

Anonymous said...

alan, your father was a great man!!!

Balkan Ⓐnarchist said...

Thank you for your kind words, Anonymous 14 December 2013 13:55. If you knew my father personally, please contact me, as I love to hear from other people who knew my father, the late Stevo Jakšić: said...