Active West Newton retiree had passion for Croatian roots
Michaelene Nohavicka was full of life, and the life she lived was a full one.
“Even at 70, she was still going like crazy,” said her daughter, Beth Lengvarsky.
Retirement, following a series of careers, found Mrs. Nohavicka still a dynamo of energy. A driving force at the former Yukon Croatian Lodge 432, she remained active at West Newton’s Holy Family Roman Catholic Church and also found time to devote to family and friends — including babysitting three grandchildren.
“She could run circles around a 20-year-old,” said her daughter. “She just found time in her schedule and did it. I don’t know how.”
Michaelene A. Nohavicka of West Newton died Wednesday, April 24, 2019, at her home, following a battle with cancer and infections. She was 71.
Born April 16, 1948, in Greensburg, she was a daughter of the late Michael and Ann (Kosor) Seliy.
Mrs. Nohavicka was retired from the Elliott Co. Over the years, she also worked in home interiors, led tour groups and managed the former Curves in West Newton. She was a member of the Downtown West Newton small business organization.
She was past president of the St. Sebastian School PTO and of the Grand Illusion Baton Corps in West Newton.
She was passionate about her family’s Croatian heritage and realized her goal of reviving the Yukon Croatian Lodge where her father had served as an officer. President of the lodge, she was recognized as the 2016 Croatian Fraternalist Woman of the Year.
“She led a group of people and got all the (lodge) activities going again,” said her sister, Debra Rager. “They would have picnics and bring in ethnic musical groups.”
Mrs. Nohavicka helped man the lodge kitchen, serving such specialties as roasted lamb, haluski, crepes, cabbage rolls and nut rolls.
“In between, she’d come out and dance with us,” Rager said. “She would lead the kolo circles.”
Another of Mrs. Nohavicka’s dreams was fulfilled last summer, when she traveled to Croatia with Rager, a musician who performs with the Cokeburg Tamburitzans. The sisters were able to visit the hometowns of their parents’ families.
“It was the trip of a lifetime for her,” Rager said. “We were there for 18 days, and there was music every night.”
At the Holy Family Church, Mrs. Nohavicka sang alto in the choir, participated in a Bible study group and provided baked goods for social functions such as bingo. She was a Eucharist minister and a former youth group leader and Parish Council member.
She regularly contributed to well over a dozen charities and would make and deliver food to ailing friends and neighbors, her daughter noted.
“She was always there to help out someone who was sick or needed a ride to the store or a doctor’s appointment,” she said. “If you were a stranger, she’d make you feel very welcome. She’d be sure to come up and introduce herself — with a smile on her face.”
Mrs. Nohavicka is survived by her husband of 50 years, John; two daughters, Jill Nohavicka Slepsky of West Newton and Beth Lengvarsky and her husband, Michael, of Smock; three grandchildren; two siblings; nieces and nephews.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the J. William McCauley Jr. Funeral Home, 901 Vine St., West Newton. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday in Holy Family Church. Interment will follow in West Newton Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to Holy Family Church or Hillman Cancer Center, for bladder melanoma research.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .