Anthony Jurcan treasured family, country
From the Oct. 10, 2004 edition of The Seattle Times. John Peter Kraljic, Esq .
By Judy Chia Hui Hsu
Times Snohomish County Bureau
Those who knew him describe Anthony Jerry Jurcan as a kind, honest family man.
Mr. Jurcan died Oct. 4 of complications from pneumonia. He was 91 years old.
"He was always there for us," said his daughter, Jane Murray.
Back in her days as a newlywed, she recalled, money was tight. "He had a sixth sense, and he'd give me 20 bucks," which helped a lot, she said.
"And he was that way with the grandkids, too," Murray added. Her father would slip them $10 bills.
Born in Zlarin, Croatia, Mr. Jurcan moved to Zagreb, the country's capital, to learn his trade as a cabinetmaker when he was 14. For three years as an apprentice, he worked 10-hour days and six-day weeks.
In 1936, after serving 18 months in the army, Mr. Jurcan could not find work; the economy was still reeling from the Great Depression. So when his father, who had left the country for America several years earlier, sent him a letter and a ticket, Mr. Jurcan decided to go.
Soon after he arrived in the United States at the age of 23, he met his future wife, Annabelle. Mr. Jurcan had tuberculosis and landed in the hospital where she worked as a registered nurse. But he couldn't speak English, so using a Croatian-English dictionary, he wrote her a note asking if she'd like to teach him English.
"That was the come-on," his daughter said.
The two were married for 48 years, until Annabelle died in 1989.
Because Mr. Jurcan couldn't find work as a cabinetmaker in this country, his first job was as a fisherman. He joined his father, who was already working along the coasts of California, Washington and Alaska.
But quickly Mr. Jurcan returned to his first love. A hard worker, he practiced his trade at a few cabinet shops until he got a job with the Bon MarchĂ©. Mr. Jurcan worked for the department store for 33 years, building display cabinets by hand.
"It's very nice, fine furniture," his daughter said. "We have a whole household of tables, cabinets and chairs."
Thirteen years ago, Mr. Jurcan married his daughter's neighbor, Harriet Mihara.
Mr. Jurcan loved to tell stories. He liked fishing and being outdoors. "He even installed a hot tub in his back yard a few years ago," his daughter recalled.
Mr. Jurcan was a member of Seattle's Croatian Fraternal Union Lodge 439 for 67 years.
Richard Major, who knew Mr. Jurcan for about 40 years through the lodge, remembers his "genuine hospitality and conversations about his homeland and his life in America, which he loved deeply."
Above all, Mr. Jurcan valued family and being together, his daughter said. "He enjoyed Christmas, Thanksgiving and tradition."
His son Robert Jurcan said having his father to talk to is what he'll miss most.
"He was a man that seemed to have no faults," his son said. "Everybody that met him, even just one time, liked him."
In addition to his wife, Mr. Jurcan is survived by two sons, Anthony Jr., of Bellevue, and Robert, of Sumner; daughter Jane Murray, of Seattle; four granddaughters; and a grandson.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Greenwood Memorial Park and Funeral Home, 350 Monroe Ave. N.E., Renton. Donations to any charity may be made in his memory.
Judy Chia Hui Hsu: 425-745-7809 or firstname.lastname@example.org