Luka Palandacic was born in Boka Kotorska at the start of the last century, August 1900. He was the last child of eight children born to Rade and Paraskeva Palandacic. His childhood, as such, was extremely difficult. He was in the sixth grade when the First Balkan War was fought and school was suspended. The seventh grade was, likewise, aborted when school was suspended in consequence of the Second Balkan War. At the age of 14, Luka was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army [the start of WWI] where he saw active combat in France. At the age of 16 Luka attained the rank of Sargent and somehow survived the trench death and chaos to the war’s November, 1918 conclusion. On returning home to Boka, the life story proved too similar. The new nation state of Yugoslavia was formed and Luka was drafted into the Yugoslav Army, where he remained until 1921 [which would prove to be a pivotal year in my grandfather’s life]. While young people often complain about the ‘unfairness’ of life, few are seven year veterans of the armed forces by the age of 21.
Back to 1921. That year, Luka’s very influential brother, Ivo [John] Palandacic [Palandech] came to Boka with his entire family to convince his elderly mother that Luka should return with him to Chicago. John had, by this time, established himself as a leading businessman in the foreign press and publishing domain, and had the resources to “buy” Luka out of the Yugoslav Army [which he did]. Although Luka did not speak a word of English and had no translatable skills to offer, he left stari kraj with this mother’s blessing to go with Ivo to Chicago with a job promise in lithographic arts [Luka would come to master the linotype in short order]. Recognizing the need to assimilate, Luke took night classes in English and worked extremely hard at this craft. While this next part is surely anecdotal, it does have a significance to the story—Luka was movie-star handsome, standing well over 6’, incredibly thick dark hair, with light blue eyes. The urban legend was that a number of young Serbian woman took particular interest when Luka was around. One young lady, in particular, caught Luka’s affection, Milica Angelich, who he wed in 1928 and to whom he remained faithfully married until his death in 1979. Luka and Milica had four children; three boys [Ivo/John, Milosh/Mike and Rade/Rich] and one daughter [Anice/Ann]. The family home was at 7426 S. Oakley in Chicago, which was filled with love, laughter, friends and Kumovi. At the age of 69, Luka and Emily moved to Clearwater, Fla. for what turned out to be a too short retirement.
I cannot put into words [since I don’t have the ability] Luka’s sense of faith, family and fraternity. Everything he did was with an almost innate sense of nobility. He did not raise his voice, he did not physically demonstrate—he did not need to do so, since the respect in which he was universally held made such displays unnecessary. His love of the Orthodox Church was transmitted through the generations and his devotion to Milica still serves as a model of husband/wife relations. While understanding that mortal life is, by definition, finite, no day passes without appreciating the life blessing of his example.