Zvonmir Zvonko (Von) Sarac

Zvonmir Zvonko (Von) Sarac

Born February 28, 1944, in Osijek, Croatia, passed away in Smithers July 27, 2008.

Predeceased by his wife Bea and father Josip. Survived by his mother Marija and brothers Damir and Zdenko.

Von arrived in Ottawa from Yugoslavia with his family in 1957. Von took to life in Ottawa with characteristic enthusiasm. He involved himself in sports, in art, and helped in the family shoemaking business. Candy apple red GTOs and very fast motorcycles resulted in Von’s love of speed and foreshadowed Von’s interest in the law. Von was a contradictory and complex person. Both practical and impractical to a fault, Von felt anything was possible.

The Bulkley Valley is richer for Von’s unbounded optimism. He arrived in Smithers in 1974 as a social worker. The next 30 years saw him work for the Moricetown Board and as a legal information counsellor for the Wedzen Kwe community law office. He became the executive director of the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre and later was executive director of the Community Law Centre in Smithers. Von and his wife Bea had a special relationship with the First Nations People in the Bulkley Valley. In 1995, Von and Bea started a consulting business focusing on program development, administration, clinical service delivery, and fundraising. Von’s organizing abilities were instrumental in building the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre in Smithers, assisted living Seniors Housing in Houston, and 24 housing units for families in Smithers. Von counselled countless individuals in need of legal aid over the years. As a one-time newspaper reporter and photographer for The Interior News in the late 1970s, Von knew where to find a story.

Von gave to the community in many ways. He was a tireless organizer of chess tournaments throughout the Northwest and had the audacity to believe that everyone should learn to play chess. Soccer was another passion. Von played, coached, and refereed for over 30 years. The world would have been perfect if Croatia won the World Cup. Von took up tennis later in life and the game quickly brought out his competitive nature. The Telkwa Barbecue Tennis Tournament was one of his special projects. Recently Von worked with youth in the Junior Rangers Program.

Von’s family and friends would like to thank the Palliative Care Nurses, staff at the Bulkley Valley Hospital, and Dr. Biz Bastion for their professional and compassionate care.

Von will be greatly missed by his family and by his many friends.

The date of the memorial service will be announced in next week’s newspaper.


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