2017-04-20 / Obituaries

Jelena Popovich

Jelena Popovich, Okemos and Roscommon, 93, died April 14, 2017, at the home of her daughter.

A memorial service at Higgins Lake will be planned for the summer. Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Lansing Chapel, handled arrangements.

She was born June 28, 1923, in Slo­venia, a part of the former Yugoslavia, which was overtaken by Communism after the war. She met Vladimir “Walt” Popovich at the Yugoslav political head­quarters in Cairo, Egypt. The two were married in Cairo March 30, 1944.

She and her late husband, Vladimir, immigrated to the United States in 1950. They lived in the Detroit area until re­tirement in 1984, when they split their time between Higgins Lake and Florida.

Mrs. Popovich continued to spend the summers at Higgins Lake after being actually widowed. Having lived through World War II, at one point was errone­ously informed that her husband was killed.

They were married briefly when he left for some training in South Africa be­fore serving as a night bomber in World War II. He was shot down over Italy and taken as a prisoner of war in Germany Oct. 1, 1944.

Mrs. Popovich did not know he was alive until almost the end of the war. Her husband’s belongings had been sent to her, but about a year later, she finally received a letter he had written while in London and met up with him in Bel­grade. He had been misidentified as be­ing dead because he had loaned his jack­et with his name on it to someone else.

They were able to escape on foot through the woods toward Austria. Fac­ing dangerous circumstances, they were able to enter Austrian territory, with her husband throwing her over the fence. They were then jailed for a time.

For a few years, they worked for the American State Department in Austria, near Salzburg, where Mrs. Popovich worked as an interpreter. They were eventually sponsored by a friend of her husband’s (whom he had spent time with as a POW) and his American wife and came to Royal Oak in 1950.

Mrs. Popovich worked at the De­troit Public Library, while her husband worked as an electrician in the automo­tive industry. They stayed in the base­ment of their friends’ home until it flood­ed and later were able to buy a place in Ferndale.

She and her husband became natural­ized citizens in the mid-1950s and she had a deep appreciation for the United States. The two raised their daughters, Carol Ann and Susan Neda “Sue.”

Over the years, she worked as a bookkeeper and a switchboard opera­tor. In 1971, she and her husband bought a second home at Higgins Lake. Her husband died Dec. 24, 2001, after 57 years of marriage.

She was a member of St. Hubert Catholic Church and had a large circle of close friends. She had spent winters in Okemos with her daughter, but due to declining health in recent months, she moved to Okemos and was under hos­pice care.

Surviving Mrs. Popovich are her daughters, Carol 4"Popovich of Grand Blanc and Dr. Sue Popovich of Okemos; by and many nieces and nephews in Michi­gan, Ohio, California and worldwide.

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