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Bosa Scekic (nee Balevic), 85, died at Ascension All Saints Hospital on Saturday, December 21st. Her life, both extraordinary and routine, typified the immigrant experience. Bosa was born on January 14, 1934 in the tiny farming village of Zaton, Montenegro as the world was edging toward a harrowing conflict. She and her family endured many hardships during and after World War II, including the loss of their home when guerilla fighters set fire to her village.
Seeking greater opportunity for herself and her family, she resolved in her early 20s to leave Montenegro for the U.S. She first traveled by train to Trieste, Italy to meet and wed a man with whom she had developed a relationship through a year-long correspondence. On June 29, 1958, Bosa married Milenko “Mike” Scekic, a fellow Montenegrin who had been granted political asylum in the U.S. following the war. When she encountered problems obtaining a visa, she remained by herself in Trieste for several months to resolve the issues, then flew alone to the U.S. not knowing one word of English.
Bosa and Mike settled in Racine at a time when jobs in the manufacturing sector were plentiful. They lived near downtown before buying a house in 1963 on the city’s north side. While Mike worked at Racine Steel Castings, Bosa stayed home to raise their children: a son, Veselin (born in 1960), and a daughter, Vera (born in 1966.) She also worked briefly at Rainfair and, in the 1970s, as a caregiver to the elderly.
Many hours were devoted to assisting the Yugoslavian immigrant community and volunteering at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, where Bosa and Mike were members for several decades. She also cultivated a sizable flower and vegetable garden and enjoyed experimenting with different varieties and species of plants.
Although she would be loath to admit it, Bosa’s knowledge base was extensive. She could speak with authority about a number topics, ranging from best practices in construction to the nutritional variances among grains. Despite not being able to further her education beyond high school, she was a lifelong learner. She followed current events avidly and relished debating the merits of our political and economic systems. She was critical of the consumerism that pervades our society, and she purposely lived a simple life.
It was especially important to Bosa to impart her values to her twin granddaughters, Sofia and Jasmina, who were born in 2000. She was an integral part of their upbringing, and family members referred to her as the third parent. She adored and was proud of her granddaughters, and she frequently remarked that the girls made the later stages of her life an absolute joy.
Having lived in the same house for over half a century, Bosa was a neighborhood connector and anchor. She was a warm and approachable individual who embodied the best qualities: empathy, humor, curiosity, creativity, honesty, patience and resilience. She was also resolutely pragmatic, unsentimental and fiercely independent.
Surviving Bosa are her daughter Vera Scekic, son-in-law Robert Osborne, granddaughters Sofia and Jasmina Osborne Scekic, Kumovi (Desanka Djurovic, Dragica Djurovic and Zora Gilman), and other relatives and friends. Her husband, son, two sisters, one brother and Kum (Duka Djurovic) preceded her in death. Bosa will be interred at New Gracanica Serbian Orthodox Cemetery in Third Lake, Illinois following a private ceremony. To acknowledge the centrality of reading in her and her family’s lives, Bosa suggested donations be made in her memory to the Racine Public Library Foundation, 75 Seventh Street, Racine, WI, 53403.