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February 23, 2019     The Ely Echo
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February 23, 2019

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Section 1 ECHO/Page 11 ELY SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2019 Continued from previous page Chisholm, in addition to contributing two U.S. Congressmen and editor and civic leader Veda Ponikvar, also gave America nationally prominent physicians of Slove- nian parentage, Dr Leonard K. Lovshin, former head of the Department of Internal Medicine at the famous Cleveland Clinic and past president of the American Asso- ciation of Medical Clinics; and Dr. James Pluth, acclaimed as one of the best surgeons in the United States, who was Professor of Surgery and Head of Thoracic and Cardio- vascular Surgery at the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Dr. Anthony Baraga, radiologist, was president of the IronRange Medical Society and Was elected Chair of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents in 1999, while David Baraga, Ph.D served for over 30 years as director of the Central Minnesota Mental Health Center in St. Cloud. Matthew Banovetz was president of Reserve Mining Company, and many Slo- venian prominent inventors from Minnesota are included in a well documented and richly illustrated book: Slovenian American In- ventors and Innovators, by Edward Gobetz (2016), And please note that we could here mention only some of the many known Slovenian achievers. Yet, as you can easily see by reading this short letter and the enclosed attachment Slovenian contributions to Minnesota and to America surpass expectations and deserve to be better known and recognized. Thank you, fellow Americans, for the freedom and opportunities that Minnesota and America provided so that hard-working Slovenians, too, coming from a small Alpine country with a population of hardly about two million souls, have been able to become an active and vibrant part of U.S. progress, culture and history. Edward Gobetz, is Professor Emeritus, KSU, Ohio; and Director of Slovenian American Researcl/ Center; author 6r editor of 17 books;Outstanding Educator 0! America, 1971; elected member of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1984 Reprinted with permission February 1, 2019 Volume Xl, Issue 4 Page 11 SIovenski Ameri~k/ CASI -- mayor of Norton, Minnesota. While we did our best to get on record all Slovenian or partly Slovenian ' mayors in Minnesota, the list is undoubtedly incomplete and may need further revisions. All things considered, Slovenians of Minnesota deserve to be applauded for their many outstanding contributions to Minnesota and the United States. What about Slovenian mayors in other countries? Slovenian minorities under Austria and Italy have elected an impressive number of mayors, especially in towns with substantial Slovenian populations. They, however, represent a challenge for local researchers, master's degree theses or dissertations for students, journalists, li- brarians, civic leaders, etc. To the extent that this has not yet been done, minori- ties under Austria, Italy and Hungary should, of course, also systematically Left: BishoP Frederic Baraga (1797-1868), a towering figure of the American Catholic Church, called document and publicize in at least S]o- venian and the languages of the respec- by the Vatican's Enciclopedia Cattolica, 1949: "One of the greatest missionaries of North America in" tive dominant group all other signlfi- modern times. Center: Cover of Frederic Baraga's A Dictionary of the O]ibway Language, Minnesota cant contributions by their members, in Historical Society, 1992, called an "enduring monument to missionary linguistics" Right: Cover of In religion, politics, scholarship, various Charity Unfeigned: The Life of Father Francis X. Pierz, by William P. Furlan, 1952 professions, in business, tourism and sports (e.g. Slovenian skiing champions and Olympians in Carinthia), etc. While Slovenians in Canada can be very proud of the late Archbishop of Toronto Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic and of most impressive achievements in industry, business, music, construction, sports and other areas, their achieve- ments in politics need further study. Dr. Branka Lapajne of Toronto, the best Slo- venian genealogist in North America, in addition to being a capable author and ~st editor, has ~scovered~so far known Slove, nian mayors.in Canada. Mark - : .i K ovshin was'eleCted to counal in 2000, as deputy mayor m2003 and mayor m 2006. Dr. Lapajne also kindly sent us an article by Greg Davis, published on-line in Global News of December 13, 2017, which reports tha "Lovshin, the mayor of Hamilton Township and a long time county councilor, will serve his second term as Northhumberland County warden after being sworn in at a ceremony in Cobourg." We also consulted several knowledgeable Slovenians in Australia, yet so far, no Slovenian mayors were reported there, although this writer was privi- leged, in 1998 on his Australian lecture tour, to meet in Sydney a very gracious host Milivoj or Misha Lajovic, the first non-Anglo-Saxon and the first immigrant (federal) senator of Australia. We wrote extensively about him and later, with his approval, secured a copy of his Australian Oral History Project biography. We also wrote about the stellar political career of Tanya Joan Plibersek, born in Sydney to Slovenian immigrant parents, who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 1998 and is a star of the Australian Labor Party. I have long admired as an exceptionally dedicated public servant Alfred Breznik, for- mer Honorary Consul of the Republic of Slovenia in Sydney and president of the Emona Instruments, a leading high-tech engineering company. He was one of several sources I consulted about Slovenian mayors "down under." While Aus- tralian Slovenians shine in architecture, engineering, industry, business, classical music, the arts, and politics on the highest level, no Slovenian Australian mayors have so far been discovered in our research. Similarly, I asked several Slovenian leaders in Argentina where S10venians can justly be proud of a Catholic archbishop and two bishops and are admired for their accomplishments in maintaining strong, well-organized Slovenian communities. Their achievements shine in numerous fields, including nation- ally and internationally recognized scholarship, architecture, classical music, alpinism, etc. Argentine Slovenians also contributed Cardinal Franc Rode, for- mer archbishop of Ljubljana, Slovenia, a prolific scholar and author and current member of the Vatican Curia; and Pedro Opeka, the legendary missionary and an internationally known humanitarian giant who has helped over half a million of the poorest of the poor in Madagascar. Often compared with Mother Teresa, he has repeatedly been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, while Pope Francis has expressed his intention to visit Pedro's widely admired Akamasoa villages, beautifully built and maintained by formerly dehumanized "garbage" people. (Among numerous books in many languages about Pedro, see the English edi- tion of J.M. Silveyra, Padre Pedro: Apostle of Hope, Foreword by Cardinal Franc Rode, College Station, Texas: Virtual Bookworm Publishing, Inc 2012). Yet, I could so far get no information on Slovenian mayors in Argentina. It seems that politics was not.particularly attractive to Argentine Slovenians. As a highly respected respondent stated, "Politics is pervaded with corruption and we Slovenians stay out of it" (an attitude similar to that of many Slov'enians in native Slovenia). It may be puzzling why, by contrast, so many Slovenians in America have become mayors of many large cities (Cleveland, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Portland, Oregon) and of scores of smaller towns. My own hypothesis would ascribe this to American genius in modern times in successfully integrating all ethnic groups. In simpler terms, the American political system, too, is character- ized as being very pragmatic, with a strong competitive orientati'on. As new im- migrants arrive, both Democrats and Republicans try to enlist them as their po- tential voters, since the number of voters decides whether they or the rival party will gain political power. On the other hand, ethnic groups soon realize that it is also to their advantage to be politically recognized and thus become integrated first on the local, municipal level. American parties, in turn, nominate and sup- port those candidates who they believe would have the best chance to lead their party to victory, increasingly regardless of a candidate's ethnicity. Whatever the explanation, Slovenian Americans have been very successful also in politics, beginning on the local level with an impressive number and per- formance of Slovenian American mayors. Indeed, should we add all populations of American municipalities led by Slovenian or partly-Slovenian mayors, the iiiiiiiii~'!i/iii! Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital, built with strong support: of Mayor Grahek, was dedicated on February 22, 1958. A view of the town of Mores, in Sardinia, where Du an Simsid served as mayor. sum total would undoubtedly exceed several times the total population of that of native Slovenia, which is only about two million. Thanks to Ivo Jevnikar, an outstanding Slovenian journalist, writer, editor and civic leader in Trieste-Trst, we can today report also on the Slovenian mayor of Mores on the Italian Island of Sardegna, or Sardinia, as reported by Andrej' Cernic in Novi glas of October 23, 2014 (a copy of which Jevnikar kindly shared. with us). Cernic, in turn, mentions his indebtedness to a report by Dorica Makuc who had reported to KCLB about Slovenians in Sardinia. The latter had been" members of Slovenian minorities living in Italy who were mobilized into the, Italian army and sent in selected battalions to the Italian island of Sardinia which; was of great strategic significance during the Second World War. One of mobi- lized soldiers, Lojze Pavli~, who had earlier been an assistant of the noted Slo- ; enian composer Vinko Vodopivec, even established a Slovenian singing group' in Sardinia. When, after 1943, the victorious Americans had heard them singing; Slovenian songs, they invited them to move together with them to France where'. Pavli and his singers entertained American army Units, especially the wounded soldiers in hospitals. Some Slovenians who had been brought to Sardinia as Italian soldiers have married local women and decided to remain in Sardinia. Dorica Makuc, a dedi- cated researcher and writer, accompanied a male singing society Scala from Ga- brije on one of its tours to .the island of Sardinia. There, she also discovered the fascinating story of Du an Simsi . He was one of those former soldiers who re-: mained in Sardinia and was even elected mayor of Mores, a small town of about; 2,000 residents, located in the Province of Sassari, about 159 kilometers or 93:, miles north of Sardinia's capital city of Cagliari. Sardenga, or Sardinia, has been a self-governing region of Italy since 1948. Although Mayor Simsi remained in Mores for the rest of his life, he has never forgotten his Slovenian roots and he- ritage. On his 90th birthday; a male singing group from Gabrije and another one from Doberdob, both reltively close to the village of his birth, visited him and he l was delighted to listen to the Slovenian songs that he had learned so long ago as a young member of the Slovenian minority under Italy. As some Slovenians like to say: "Kri ni voda! Blood isn't water!" (God willing, in the next issue we will complete the series on Slovenian mayors by introducing the Slovenian mayor of one of the leading capital cities of Europe.)