An Engineer, Author and Translator: Discover John’s Story

August 20, 2019
By Alyse Wagner - American House
Life at American House

John, who calls American House Cedarlake his home, says, “I’m just a shade less than 90.”

He was born in New York City, a year after his family moved to the United States from Croatia.  

“There came a point where my father finally had to sell the cabin in the woods,” John said.
So, they made the move to New York.

As John learned English, he helped translate for his parents. 

“My parents didn’t speak any English,” he explained.

He went on to meet his wife, Nancy, and together they had three sons, two of which were born in Amsterdam and one who was born in Philadelphia. 

Traveling and embracing culture was always important to John and Nancy. 

Having a love for science and chemistry, John spent his career as a chemical engineer.

On top of having a full time job, John took pride in being a host and translator for Croatian families. 

Nancy and John met families who needed bilingual assistance through their church. 

They once sponsored a Croatian mother, whose child came to America for heart surgery. 

While supporting this mother through such a difficult time, John was also able to translate for the doctors and medical staff aiding in the child’s surgery. 

While the child was recovering, John and Nancy opened their home to the family.

“It really tugged at your heart strings,” John disclosed. 

He was able to help nine families over the course of his life. 

Expressing his gratitude, John stated, “I am so grateful to the church who put me in touch with these families. They did a wonderful thing.” 

After retiring, John spent seven years writing a book based on his life experiences as a Croatian moving to America. 

He wanted his children and grandchildren to know their family’s history.  With help from Nancy, his sister, Sonja, and his sons, John was able to complete the book. 

Today, John and Nancy enjoy trivia, card games and spending time with family and friends. He enjoys making people feel welcome, a part of him that was instilled at a young age. 

Recalling his experience with writing his book, John’s biggest piece of advice for someone starting a new hobby is, “Like your subject and you’ll pursue it.”

 


You may also like these stories:

back to blog posts