2006.12.09. - Marko Spiranovic

Eulogy - Mr. Jerome Brentar - ....The well-known Croatian patriot Tomislav Mesic, wrote in the early 1950’s: “We have a man in America, by the name of Jerome, who has done miracles in helping the Croatian people and Croatia. If we had only five more like him, I believe that Croatia would soon be free of the Yugo-communists and would be reborn in true Christian fundamentals.”.....
Eulogy - Mr. Jerome Brentar

Dear Mrs. Dora Brentar, Carolyn “Suzy” & Boris Music along with Christopher, Suzy and Victoria; Mar Ann & Tomsilav Drazina with Mara and Ante; John and Dora .

Brothers Joe, John, Frank Brentar and your families as well as the family of the late George Brentar.

Reverend Fathers and all of you present – friends of Mr. Jerome Brentar:

On behalf of our parish, that will forever cherish our Jerry, as a long- time member of our church choir and our church council and as a person who led an exemplary, saintly life, I have been asked to speak about him and frankly I’m truly honored to do so, however, on the other hand I was somewhat nervous to accept speaking about our Jerry because who could ever cover and describe a person of such a vast and extensive life, full of vigor and a person who touched so many lives.

Mr. Brentar’s life is interesting to all of us as most of us have been touched by him in his life and many of us share in the ordeals that his parents went through in their journey for a better life.

Jerry’s dad came to this country in 1899 with his mother and father. His mother came to the states in 1920 to be married to his father and Jerry was born in 1922. Grandpa Brentar was one of the founding fathers of our church and he was the custodian for many years and the family lived right across from the church on E. 40th.

Jerry became a choir member in 1928 at the age of six, went through the St. Paul’s grade school and upon graduating he enrolled into John Hay High School. Jerry’s athletic abilities landed him a football and wrestling scholarship at the University of Michigan State.

In 1943 he was drafted into the US Air Force and took his training in Texas and California. As pilots were not in great demand anymore, he was sent to Europe as a reservist in the 93rd Armored Cavalry under Gen. William Patton.

In 1945 he was sent back to Santa Maria, Camp Cook, to be trained for the Pacific arena of war. Since the war finally ended, Jerry was released in 1946 and continued his studies at the University of Michigan State.

At Michigan State, Jerry was a boxer and football player. He was a member of the Neuman Club, The International Club; he sang in the “acapella” choir, the campus church choir and was a member of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Club.

After the World War II, Jerry along with his brother Joe, went to Europe and while in Prag, The Czeck Republic, they were accepted to travel to Yugoslavia and were part of the international brigade that was building the railway Samac, by Zenica. After some time they were closely watched as they were accused of corrupting the Yugoslav youth with freedom ideas..

After some months of work, they were allowed to visit the birth place of their father, Klana in Istria. That same day Mgsr Milan Simcic, a relative of the Brentars, was planning his escape to Italy so that he could continue his Theological Studies for the priesthood.

On Christmas Eve in 1947 the two Brentars came home and finalized their schooling in 1948 at Western Reserve University.

In the summer of 1948 Jerry again went to Europe, working on a ship as a helper to the baker who never showed up and Jerry became the primary baker on ship. While in Europe, Jerry heard that the International Refugee Organization (IRO) was looking for people who spoke foreign languages and who could be interpreters for refugees and he was accepted. As a member of the International Organization, Jerry was free to travel across Europe and started meeting many Croatians in the refugee camps.

When Fr. Mirko Covic begged for someone to help the Croatian widows and their children, Jerry accepted the challenge. A massive exodus from Croatia by tens of thousands of Croatian civilians filled the Austrian refugee camps without any protection, exposed to hunger and sickness, very often being deported to the very cruel Serbo-communists to a certain death or a long life of hard labor in the Yugoslav prisons.

“One Sunday in 1949, while in church at the refugee camp St. Martin (by Linz) in Austria, Father Mirko Covic announced that he had met a young American soldier of Croatian heritage, Jerome Brentar, who was very much interested in how we lived with our families and wanted to visit us. He told us that he had to return home, leaving us with the hope, however, that he would try to do something for those widows and their children.

When Mr. Brentar became a “Screening Officer” he had a chance to travel more and meet with well known Croatian intellectuals. In Austria he met Fathers Mirko Covic, Vilim Cecelja as well as Tomislav Mesic and Dr. Jure Prpic. In Rome he met Prof. Krunoslav Draganovic, Fra Berto Dragicevicm Fra Kruno Pandzic and Josip Bosiljevic. In Germany he got to know Fra Dominik Susnjara and father Ivan Vitezic. In the refugee camp Asten, Jerry met his wife Dora Culina in 1948. Two years later he sponsored her coming to Cleveland and they were married in St. Paul’s church in 1952.

When Mr. Brentar came back to the States, he made good on his promise – he organized a network of people, mostly his family and friends who were to be sponsors.”

Soon the Abramovic, Boras, Boskovic, Bulic, Dosens, Dzeba, Fikter, Hlosek, Ivaskovic, Jerinic, Kresic, Majetic, Pervan, Politi, Prim, Raguz, Spiranovic and the Vranic family and others started coming to the United States. Many, many more Croatians, Germans, Slovenians, Hungarians and others came after us and they all felt the goodness of Mr. Brentar in one way or another.

Jerry, his parents and his brothers, as they surely shared Jerry’s humanistic ideas, opened their home to the steady stream of immigrants. Sometimes the house was filled with as many as a dozen persons, with children, who slept on army cots and ate their meals in their kitchen until they found housing.

Jerry’s free services did not end once the immigrants were settled in apartments and jobs. Invariably a family crisis would occur in Europe and an emergency visit needed to be arranged. Working as a social worker now in Cleveland, Jerry would get a call and be off to Cleveland Hopkins to book a flight. He made so many trips there that Albert Von Hofe, then the Lufthansa district sales manager, suggested that Brentar go into travel business because he was bringing more business than most travel agents and for free.

To satisfy the needs of a growing family, Jerry took the suggestion and in 1958 opened his office at 749 E. 185th Street. When the new immigrants were able to go on vacations they did remember their old friend Jerome Brentar and booked their trips through Europa Travel.

Jerry expanded his business and built the beautiful Swiss Chalet on E. 185th Str. He brought the Oberammergau wood carvers from Austria who created several original works on the site. His children became his business partners.

Mr. William Miller, The Plain Dealer reporter, once described Mr. Brentar as: “A native Clevelander, with a strong Croatian upbringing, Brentar looks and acts more like a soft-spoken, small town parish priest than a leader of jetsetters. A deeply religious man, he has worked closely with the Catholic church his entire life…”

Another of Jerry’s strong characteristics is to stand up for what is right and what is just, especially when it meant defending people who escaped from the communist rule. Jerry was interested in helping one and all, the Croatian Andrija Artukovic or the Ukranian Ivan Damjanjuk – absorbing great financial losses in the latter case.

The well-known Croatian patriot Tomislav Mesic, wrote in the early 1950’s: “We have a man in America, by the name of Jerome, who has done miracles in helping the Croatian people and Croatia. If we had only five more like him, I believe that Croatia would soon be free of the Yugo-communists and would be reborn in true Christian fundamentals.”

The immigrants that Jerry brought to this country expressed their gratitude when they prepared a Banquet in his honor on February 23, 2003 at the Croatian Lodge in Eastlake. The Cleveland Croatians certainly considered him as the American Croatian of the century and described him so in the article published in the Croatian Almanac in 2004.

Jerry’s love for music was unparalleled. He was a member of 4 choirs, notably the Cleveland Singers Club and the “Klapa Prijatelji” octet. He was the oldest member of the St. Paul Croatian Church Choir.

I can only thank God that he blessed me and allowed me to stand next to the saintly person, that Jerry was, for the last forty seven (47) years. We sang four-part music and Jerry was the anchor of not only the tenor section but of the whole choir. I know that all the pastors of St. Paul were grateful to him – from Mgrs Domladovac and Misic, and all the way to Father Mirko Hladni and Zvonko Blasko. I know that these two priests had a special admiration for him.

May Jerry’s exemplary life of daily attendance of Holy Mass take him to heaven to be with his loved ones and his deceased son Jerome and be a guide to all of us, as we shall be forever thankful to him.

Mark G. Spiranovich




Priopćenja u toku političkog progona HDZ-ove vlade,Ive Sanadera i haaškog tužiteljstva - Text