with Baba Mim....
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Bizic Education Enterprises.
"The Power of Three"--> www.mimbizic.com
And the Moon Township Historical Society website:
Movers and Shakers
Movers and Shakers:
The Arbutina Families of Freedom
Real SNF "Braco Jugovici" Freedom, PA Lodge Members
Millard (Milutin) Arbutina, Michael Arbutina, and George Arbutina, all buried very close to each other in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Freedom. A huge contingent from the Beaver County Special Unit conducted full military honors for Millard, who died on St. Sava's Day, Friday, Jan. 27, 2006, and was buried the following Monday, with V. Rev. Stevan Stepanov conducting the services.
By Milana (“Mim”) Karlo Bizic
This story appeared in the American SRBOBRAN on Wednesday, April 19, 2006.
(With thanks to the Memoirs of Millard Arbutina)
I first saw him as I went to record my name in the Visitor’s Book of his deceased uncle, Millard Arbutina, at the William Murphy Funeral Home in Rochester, Pa. He stood tall and handsome in his Air Force blue, full-bird colonel’s uniform, with a military polished look that right away gave away his background.
“You’re the Arbutina who graduated from the Air Force Academy,” I extended my hand. “I’m Mim Bizic. My deepest condolences on the loss of your uncle,” I said sincerely. Then I added, “Your Dad was my principal at the Sewickley Elementary School in Quaker Valley, and later, was our Assistant Superintendent.”
“Yes, I’m Dave Arbutina, “I heard as I watched him break into a winning smile, his large hand warmly meeting mine.
“When you and your brother received your special nominations to the Academies (George Jr. went to the Coast Guard Academy), everyone of our faculty felt a source of pride that only comes from extended family feelings. It wasn’t only your Q.V. family,” I continued, and I could feel my chest heaving up in pride, “but your entire Serbian family as well, and that’s a family that goes from coast to coast. If one Serb makes it, we feel we ALL made it! We’re all very proud of you!”
The next time I saw him only a few minutes later, he was reading a tribute to his Uncle Millard, a poem that both of them must have heard many times. Entitled HIGH FLIGHT, over the years it has become a mantra to pilots. Written by Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee, RCAF, and killed 11 December, 1941, it goes like this:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high un-trespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Before us was Millard Arbutina, my old Quaker Heights neighbor when I lived in Sewickley. Although I admired and loved Millard, somehow I was disappointed, too, reading his obituary, almost angry because I never knew what a real hero he was, and I lived only a block away! Too many of our Serbs have done outstanding things and should be recognized, but people don’t know enough about them.
Millard was a Major in the Army Air Corps. He received the highest award you can get in the Air Force, the Distinguished Flying Cross. Not once, but TWICE! It’s a real honor to get that award, yet alone getting it twice! He was also decorated highly by the Nationalist Chinese Air Force, but let’s back up a little.
Millard was born August 6, 1921, in Freedom, PA, the son of the late George and Stanica Tepsic Arbutina. After graduating from High School in 1939 (where Dani Pevac said he was cheated out of being named President of the Class because of his background and living in the poor “Canadian” side of Freedom even though overwhelmingly elected by his classmates), the brilliant Millard entered the Civilian Conservation Corps, and from there, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Any of you familiar with the Civilian Conservation Corps know that it was a way for poorer families to exist during and after the Great Depression. One child went to the CCC camps, and 95% of the money earned was automatically sent home to feed the family. Others I know personally who did this were also famous heroes: WWII fighter pilot Vic Lumovich and Gus’ uncle, “Ujak” Milosh Klaich, of D-Day fame.
Millard transferred to the U.S. army Air Corps where he earned his wings as a pilot, later becoming a command pilot in December, 1942. He was a veteran of WWII, the Korean War and was then involved with the Berlin Air Lift.
During WWII, he flew transport aircraft over the Himalayan Mountains between India and China which at the time was considered the most dangerous “hump” flying that could be done. This was due to terrain, weather, and enemy aircraft.
In Korea, he flew B-26 aircraft and flew 68 voluntary combat missions. For five years, before retiring, he was an aircraft commander on the RB/47, a six engine jet aircraft. He was also trained as a navigator and a radar bombardier.
Among his many decorations and campaign medals were: two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, four air medals, two Presidential Unit Citations, a decoration and a pair of pilot wings by the Chinese Air Force. His campaign medals covered the American and Asiatic-Pacific Campaigns. He had the Army of Occupation Medal (Germany) and Korean War Service Medals.
After retiring from the Air Force, he entered what is today known as the University of Central Arkansas to pursue a degree in education. He completed his studies in two years, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. During this time he was a Dean’s List student, and was inducted into the Phi Delta Kappa Educational Fraternity and the history fraternity of Phi Alpha Theta.
He returned home to Pennsylvania and taught for Freedom (1) and Western Beaver School Districts (4) years. He often said that his teaching years were his golden years, but he felt he could make more of an impact on the profession by joining the staff of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA).
He became a field representative for the union and opened the first field office for the union in Pittsburgh.
My Kum, Milan Markovich attests to the importance of Millard’s help. Hopewell school teachers never had a contract in those early years, or even the right to negotiate salaries. Milan was President of his Association. John Milanovich (another Serb), was the Superintendent, and there was Millard Arbutina, backing up Markovich and the Hopewell Education Association. It wasn’t easy, but it worked!
Millard devoted many stressful long hours in organizing and negotiating for teachers in order to improve their economic well-being, both from a Pittsburgh office, and then afterwards, in Harrisburg as a Director in Field Services, from which he retired. But he wasn’t finished working!
Millard became interested in real estate and went on to earn a real estate license. He worked at Valley Realty Company in Ambridge, and in his own words: “for over 15 very joyful years.” For most of those years he worked as an appraiser and became certified as an independent fee appraiser.
Millard is survived by his wife of 56 years, H. Noreen (Hamm) Arbutina, with whom he traveled the world, including Yugoslavia.
Millard left behind a rich legacy to his son Millard Jr. (Lynne of Gaithersburg, MD), and daughter, Lisa Arbutina Fedorko. (Michael of Ewing, NJ), three step-grandchildren and several adorable foster grandchildren.
Lisa retired from AT&T as a Client Business Manager (Viacom, OBS, UPI), then became an independent contractor for three years before joining Johnson & Johnson where she is the Clinical Project Manager.
Lisa shared an important story with me about Draza Mihailovich. While she was working in California, she met Fran Grossman, who has turned out to be a lifelong friend. Upon announcing her Serb background, Fran mentioned how her pilot father had been saved by a Serb during WWII when his airplane was shot down over Yugoslavia.
After the war, Mr. Grossman owned a very successful company in Columbus, Ohio. One of his first acts after establishing himself was to send for his savior Serb in Yugoslavia, sponsor him and his family, and make the fellow Supervisor of the plant! Lisa was sorry she couldn’t remember the name of the Serb, but said she thinks he was related to the Bulat family in Freedom.
Lisa is very proud of her brother Millard’s educational and musical accomplishments too. Millard holds a Masters in Psychology and works as a Chaplain in Gaithersburg, MD.
More Connections: Lance Sijan
Later on in the day of the funeral, I again spoke to Dave Arbutina (George Arbutina’s son, Millard’s nephew). “Being a graduate of the Air Force Academy, did you ever hear of Sijan Hall there?”I asked.
“Lance Sijan?” he queried and my heart thumped at the positive recognition.
It turns out that Dave, who is now the Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the Mt. Nittany Medical Center in Penn State, (State College) PA, graduated from the Academy in 1976, the year of our nation’s Bicentennial. Dave Arbutina was Chairman of the Bicentennial Committee and one of the most important things the Committee wanted to accomplish was to get special recognition for Lance Sijan! Is it a small world or not?
Sijan (Dormitory) Hall is named after American Serb Captain Lance P. Sijan (class of 1965). Captain Sijan was the Academy's first and ONLY graduate so far to receive the Medal of Honor. He received it posthumously for his heroism in Vietnam.
Dan shared that there have been further recognitions: The Air Force Academy Library has a special display of Sijan memorabilia, including his headstone from Vietnam. The 440th Airlift wing in his hometown of Milwaukee has a replica of Sijan’s F-4 at the base entrance where the dining hall is named after him. In 2003, a 10 ft. marble monument in the shape of a stylized F-4 pointing upwards was erected at Arlington Park Cemetery. Sijan Circle at Langley AFB in Virginia is named in his honor as is Sijan Street at Whiteman AFB in Missouri. There’s a Lance P. Sijan Chapter of the Air Force Association in Colorado Springs where the Academy is located, and the AF ROTC from Boston University has a squadron there. Each year the Air Force bestows the Lance Sijan Award for Leadership.
Mildred Arbutina Pappas
Millard (Miladin) was the middle child in the Arbutina family: Danica (born in Europe), then Milka or Mildred, Miladin, Michael, then George and Demetro (died young). Mildred is another Arbutina who was a great humanitarian and woman of conscience. Her good deeds and works were acknowledged by Educational Television (PBS) WQED Magazine in its December, 1999 issue when it listed her as a “Pittsburgher of the Century.”
Mildred Arbutina Pappas:
When she was living in Washington in the 1970s, this Beaver County native heard that the historic Vicary House in Freedom was to be razed for expansion of Route 65. PennDOT had already purchased the stone mansion built by sea captain William Vicary around 1826. However, her aggressive campaign and dogged persistence over several years finally succeeded in having alternative plans drawn up and the landmark was saved. Today it is being restored by Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation and is open for tours.
A little more about Vicary Mansion from its official website: http://www.bchrlf.org/history__of__the_vicary_mansion.htm
“Sitting atop a gentle knoll overlooking the Ohio River in what is now Freedom, Pennsylvania , sits the stately old mansion built by Captain William Vicary. Long a source of wonder, its unusual construction and elegant style speak of the wealth and status of its former owners.
“Captain Vicary, a retired Philadelphia merchant sea captain and land speculator, moved with his family to his land near Big Sewickley Creek. Looking for land deals, Vicary most likely scouted this area of Beaver County in which to construct his family home. Finding the correct spot, Vicary purchased 604 acres of land, lots #33, 34 & 35, from Mark Wilcox on February 18, 1826 on which to situate his mansion. Within a few months following the purchase, Vicary hired John Moore to do the actual construction. The original contract called for Moore to erect a stone dwelling measuring fifty two feet long by thirty eight feet wide along with a stone smokehouse, necessary, and spring house to be finished in December of 1826 for the sum of $2,450. He was also to construct a barn for an additional $650.
“Faced with the impending destruction of this historical structure, a one-woman letter writing campaign was begun by Mrs. Mildred Arbutina Pappas. A former Freedom resident, Mrs. Papas conducted her campaign from her new home in Washington , D.C.. Thanks to her efforts, and help from local organizations and governments, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation built a retaining wall to save the mansion. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 18, 1974, ownership of the land was transferred to Beaver County in the mid-1970’s, with the mansion being purchased from Nannah heirs, Gerald and Aloha Fehr Phillips, for $41,000 in 1982. In February of 1999, the William Vicary Mansion became the official home of the Beaver County Historical Research & Landmarks Foundation. Today, the mansion is being restored to its former grandeur and is open to the public for all to enjoy.”
Mildred’s husband worked with the CIA. About 45 years ago, while driving in Europe, a car crash almost ended both of their lives. Mildred suffered a broken neck and wasn’t expected to recover. Taken to a military hospital, she lay in a hospital bed with an iron ball suspended on her neck. Her perseverance and desire to live astounded all of her physicians. She did learn to walk again, albeit with a cane from then on.
Brother Millard was so proud of Mildred’s letters to governors, senators and other influential people instrumental in saving the Freedom mansion, he had all of her work bound into a book. He made extra copies, distributing to his family members, and also sharing with local libraries and historical societies. He also made sure a bronze plaque was placed on the mansion, mentioning her monumental work in preserving it.
The late Arbutinas were movers and shakers for America. They got things done. Although we mourn the loss of a neighbor as fine as Millard and other family members, we’re grateful there are younger relatives following in their leadership role footsteps.
Millard Arbutina's medals
(Click bottom rt. corner to enlarge)
Flag from medal box above
Lisa Arbutina Fedorko & author, Mim Bizic
From an April 20, 2006 email:
Wow! I just finished ready this most incredible article. Mim, you are one heck of a brilliant writer!
Somewhere in heaven, the brothers Arbutina along with their sisters and parents are pausing to "Hvala Bogu" for you! The Arbutina's on earth will all be toasting you and thanking God for you this Easter weekend!
Thank you, again, for all of the time and HEART that you put into researching, writing and making sure the article was published!
A grateful Serb,
Old early photo of family:
George & Stanica Tepsic Arbutina & two of their 4 children.
Millard leaving for service....
Millard's daughter, Lisa, holding the above photo of her father in her hand.
George Arbutina was my principal when I taught at the old Sewickley Elementary School (no longer there.) We all loved learning about what George's children were doing and were always excited when his boys went into the U.S. Military Academies. Well, watch what happened to George's grandson! I loved receiving this note from George's daughter, Susan!
I came upon your website and was so delighted to see my family highlighted in the “Arbutinas from Freedom”. It was with great pride that I read your article. I am the daughter of George Arbutina, sister of David (U.S. Air Force Academy) and George (U.S. Coast Guard Academy). I thought you would be interested in knowing that the military academy tradition has continued on down through George’s grandson. My son, Kenneth Asher Seamans, is completing his summer basic training at the US. Military Academy at West Point. It has been his life long dream to attend West Point and through hard work and perseverance, he made it.
It appears that the influence of that great generation of Arbutina brothers continues through many generations! His grandfather would have been so proud!
Thank you for your wonderful website.
Sue (Arbutina) Seamans
We LOVE to hear stories like this! Please keep 'em coming! We're so proud of your accomplishments!