by DARIA PERSE,
SPRING HILL, Fla. — Weeks before our 2011 Florida SNPJ Days weekend started, I already had a long list with names of people who deserve to be mentioned here. I made notes a few times, and if I still forget someone I’d like you to know that your contribution is just as much appreciated as everyone else’s! This is a thank you note to all those who helped our Friday, March 4, jam session come true, either by organizing it or attending the fun event at the Spring Hill Lodge 778 Hall.
I received many encouraging messages and thank you notes before and after our biggest event of the season, both in person and via e-mail. They mean a lot! However, all the praise goes to the teamwork of everyone who stood by me even through the toughest of times. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all, including the bands that passed out flyers and brochures with our schedule of events: the Frank Moravcik Orchestra, Bob Kravos and the Boys in the Band, and the Polka Quads.
As mentioned above, the Friday jam session was successful, and quite a few musicians and dancers decided to come to Spring Hill to be a part of it. We had five jamming groups entertaining from 1 to 6 p.m., including November and Zaletel; Kravos and Turcola; the Melvindale, Mich., Button Box Group; Turcola and Kravos; and Zaletel and friends. It looked like all the musicians had a blast, and we all shared a lot of laughter.
And now to my list of names of those who contributed the most for this event to happen, or have been active in our Lodge for a long time. Pete November is definitely the one person I have to mention first. He had been helping me spread the word since Thanksgiving 2010 by talking to jammers and handing out promotional materials. On Friday at the hall, he organized everything and everyone so the jamming ran smoothly. Pete is also very fun to watch when he is playing his button box with so much passion. Many people notice and appreciate that quality. Thank you, Pete, for all your work!
Bob Turcola is another nice guy who glows while playing music on his accordion. Beyond that, he makes great čevapčiči (little sausages without casing), and without him there would be no ethnic food on our Friday menu. Thank you, Bob, for everything!
There’s one more Bob who made my life easier: Bob Kravos. He offered, brought and installed his sound system for Friday’s jamming. I told him already that he couldn’t have done a bigger favor for me at the time, and here’s my thank you once again for being a friend and a great entertainer.
When I didn’t know who to call to borrow a set of drums, there came an offer from John Gurl. John is a great musician who never runs out of fun and witty remarks. He has a great understanding about how important it is for musicians and clubs to work together
because we rely on each other.
Gloria and Dave Koprowski became my dear friends throughout the last few years. They’ve helped with more things at the hall than I can list here, including the drawing ticket sales, bartending, washing the fans, and other cleaning and maintenance. On top of that, they invited some friends over for dinner and a drink on Friday night after the event. You’re both very special to me, for countless reasons.
We can’t even imagine our bar without our new vice president, Nežka Novak, and her smiling face. All in all, “one-hell-ofa-woman,” as someone stated about her recently, and I have to agree.
And now some more people who are always around when things need to be done at our Lodge, even though they hardly ever get mentioned. This reminds me of a fun fact my mom told me this past summer: I didn’t get too much of her attention because I have always been a good child and trouble-free.
Ever since their retirement, Lodge 778 has been like a second home for John Laurich and his wife, Doris. When it looked like I had no one to help me with Friday’s event, John was one of the first people to raise his hand to volunteer, saying, “If I can walk that day, I’ll be here and I’m going to help Daria.” When I heard about it, that comment made me cry. John has one of the kindest hearts ever, and I knew that when I first met him about four years ago. In short, a book could be written about everything Doris and John Laurich have done for Lodge 778. I can’t even think of the words to suitably thank them for everything.
One more person who is always there, no matter what’s going on or who needs help, s Grace Bouma, our recording secretary. Grace always makes sure everyone gets fed, including the volunteers, and she bakes some delicious cakes.
We held a regular monthly meeting March 2, before the event. As a pleasant surprise to many people, former National Secretary Grace Doerk joined us, along with her husband, Otto. I met Grace at our hall three years ago and we have been friends ever since. I very much admire her cheerfulness and positivity, and I’m glad she had a chance to witness some of the best times at our Lodge while we were getting ready for the upcoming weekend of fun.
After the meeting and free lunch, we readied the hall. I want to mention Ronald and Sally Bouma, Ed and Mary Ann Klotz, Carmel Casanova, and Eileen and Walt Harfmann, who have not been thanked before. Ed Klasa is most deserving of a thank you for the touch-up paint job he did. He missed a couple of spots, but I can’t say that out loud because he threatened to paint my nose if I did.
To Catherine Feil, our new president, I am sending much love and appreciation for your hard work, creativity and optimism. Another thank you goes to Ed Klasa and Tony Klepec for bringing a large group of people. Last but not least, thanks to Anne Gombocs for offering her help when I most needed it, and to Kathy Paulenich for everything.
In closing, the reason why it took me so long to finally sit down and write this article was the sad ending of our three-day event.
Dave Koprowski had an accident at home after he helped us clean the hall Sunday night. He passed away peacefully Tuesday,
March 8, after his three children arrived from Georgia and California, and both of Gloria’s daughters flew to St. Petersburg, Fla., from Cleveland and Germany. Gloria and David Koprowski were newlyweds; they were just married Feb. 19 in Crystal River, Fla.
Still finding it difficult to accept the loss of a good friend, let me wrap this up with the following: Genuinely kind people are a blessing and a treasure, and true friends are priceless. There are no words to properly express how much I appreciate you all!
Original article printed in Prosveta, the Official Publication of the Slovene National Benefit Society on Wednesday, March 23, 2011