| Bernard Luketich was instrumental in the organization of the National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) when a strong need existed for unifying all Croatians living in the United States. He was the recipient of numerous citations and prestigious awards from the Croatian government, was honored as Man of the Year by the United CFU Four County Lodges, CFU Scholarship Foundation Inc., the Fraternal Societies of Greater Pittsburgh and several other fraternal organizations, including John Jordan Upchurch Award for distinguished leadership and service to the fraternal benefit system. He liked to play tamburitza, Croatian national instrument. |
Bernard M. Luketich 1931-2015
Bernard M. Luketich, 84, of Cokeburg, died on Dec. 8, 2015, at Allegheny Hospital with his loving family by his side. He was born in Cokeburg on Aug. 17, 1931, a son of Ivan and Emma Grossek Luketich. Bernard was one of five children born to the Luketich family. His father, Ivan, was born in the village of Zagorje, Ogulin, Croatia, and came to the United States in 1904, where he settled in Cokeburg, to work as a coal miner. Respected as a coal miner's son and a coal miner himself in his youth, he was employed at Bethlehem Mines from March 1950 until November 1952.
Croatian Fraternal Union, Illinois lodge founded in 1903
Bernard Luketich became interested in CFU activities at a young age. He joined the Croatian Fraternal Union in 1932 and was elected president of his local CFU Lodge in Cokeburg in 1949 at the age of 16. After serving in the U.S. Army in Korea during the Korean conflict, from November 1952 to November 1954, Luketich returned home to become Deputy County Controller of Washington County, a position he held until joining the CFU National Administration in 1964.
In 1951, Bernard Luketich attended his first CFU National Convention as the youngest delegate. He was elected to the National Board of Trustees in 1959, to the Executive Board in 1964 as national treasurer, and in 1977, as national first vice president. He was sworn into office as National President on June 1, 1978, and was re-elected at conventions every four years from 1979 to 2011. He also served as president of the CFU lodge in Cokeburg and as a past president of the United CFU Four County Lodges. He organized a youth cultural group, St. George Junior Tamburitzans of CFU Lodge 354 at Cokeburg, in 1950, serving as the ensemble's manager since its inception, and later organized the St. George Adult Tamburitzans.
Croatian Fraternal Union medal
His popular radio program, "Voice of the CFU-Four Counties", broadcast exclusively in the Croatian language, was heard over the western Pennsylvania airwaves every Sunday afternoon for 59 years. Luketich launched the CFU Junior Cultural Federation and the CFU Adult Tamburitza Federation, both which promote Croatian Tamburitza music throughout the United States and Canada. He served on the boards for the CFU Scholarship Foundation and the Croatian American Professional and Business Association of Pittsburgh. In 1991 President Luketich launched a humanitarian campaign within the Croatian Fraternal Union which resulted in the collection of nearly $1.2 million for the disbursement of an estimated $23 million in goods and services to aid the people of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Croatian Fraternal Union Jr Order
Luketich was also instrumental in the organization of the National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) when a strong need existed for unifying all Croatians living in the United States. He was the recipient of numerous citations and prestigious awards from the Croatian government, was honored as Man of the Year by the United CFU Four County Lodges, CFU Scholarship Foundation Inc., the Fraternal Societies of Greater Pittsburgh and several other fraternal organizations, including John Jordan Upchurch Award for distinguished leadership and service to the fraternal benefit system.
A lifelong resident of Cokeburg in Washington County, Luketich served as a member of the Cokeburg Borough Council from January 1958 until Jan. 2, 1974, when he became Mayor of the Borough of Cokeburg, a position he has held for more than 40 years. Luketich has dedicated more than 56 years in public office serving the Cokeburg community. He was an active member of Ave Maria Parish in Bentleyville. On Sept. 20, 1950, he married Martha Cindric Luketich, who survives. Also surviving are two daughters, Marlene Luketich-Kochis (Daniel) of Scenery Hill and Bernadette Luketich-Sikaras (John) of Eighty Four; three grandsons, Derek Hohn, Adam Henderson and Marko Kochis. Deceased are two brothers, Thomas R. and Joseph B. Luketich; and two sisters, Helen Zammetti and Mary C. Luketich.
Visitation was held Dec. 12, 2015, and Dec. 13 at the Croatian Home, 26 Grant St., Cokeburg, PA 15324. A Concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Dec. 14, 2015, at 10 a.m. at Ave Maria Parish, Bentleyville, with Rev. Edward Yuhas and Rev. Pierre Falkenhan. Interment followed at St. Luke Cemetery, Bentleyville. Full Military Honors have been be accorded by the Bentleyville American Legion Post No. 165. The family of Mr. Luketich suggested that no flowers be sent and that memorials be made to the Croatian Fraternal Union Scholarship Foundation. The LEONARD M. PAVLIC FUNERAL HOMES INC., Bentleyville, was handling the arrangements.
Published in Valley Independent from Dec. 10 to Dec. 11, 2015.
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