(E) Ante B. Sikic brought family from Croatia
Ante B. Sikic brought family from Croatia
Insurance actuary was 84
By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MOUNT AIRY - In May 1945, Ante B. Sikic fled his home in Croatia just ahead of Tito's Communist army. After driving to Austria that day and sleeping in the car that night, he headed into the Alps to seek refuge with the English.
It was the beginning of a path that would lead to Cincinnati, where Mr. Sikic - who held a Ph.D. in philosophy and mathematics from the University of Graz in Austria - lived happily for 48 years.
Mr. Sikic died March 6 of heart failure at Mercy Franciscan Mount Airy. The Mount Airy resident was 84.
A Catholic, he was a student at the University of Zagreb in Croatia when he left the city with an uncle who was a government official when they realized the Communists would soon take over. After spending the summer in a refugee camp in the mountains, Mr. Sikic went to the University of Graz seeking admission.
He had left Croatia with his transcript from the University of Zagreb under his shirt and produced it for examination by the officials at Graz. They allowed him to enter the Ph.D. program. He paid the tuition by selling cigarettes from a large box he had received as a gift from a Croatian friend.
Mr. Sikic found out that his girlfriend, Fedora, who had also left Croatia, was in Trieste, Italy. After exchanging letters, they decided to marry. The problem was that neither had papers that allowed them to cross the Austrian-Italian border legally. Undaunted, Mr. Sikic hiked across the Alps into Italy, married Fedora and walked back across with her into Austria.
They made their home there and she helped with his dissertation. He graduated in 1947 and two years later - with a son and another child on the way - Mr. Sikic decided to remove his family from the chaos of post-war Europe. He registered with a refugee immigration organization.
"He agreed to perform manual labor in any English-speaking country that could provide his family with a free, peaceful life," said his daughter, Yasna Sikic Hood of College Hill.
They moved to Adelaide, Australia, where Mr. Sikic learned the carpentry trade and taught himself English. He was a carpenter in Australia for eight years, but longed to work as a mathematician. So in 1956, he moved his wife and three children to Cincinnati, where he was an actuary for the Union Central Life Insurance Co. for 28 years.
He took the oath of allegiance and became a naturalized citizen in 1962.
"Becoming an American citizen was one of the proudest moments of his life," his daughter said. "His adopted country provided a wonderful and successful life for his family."
Mr. Sikic was a member of Little Flower Parish for 46 years.
"He maintained an undying love for his homeland of Croatia and visited there every summer for the past 20 years," his daughter said.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife; two sons, Branimir of Stanford, Calif., and Adrian of College Hill; and eight grandchildren.
The funeral has been held. Burial was at Spring Grove Cemetery.