|
|
Examiner
  • Alex Petrovic - Lively at 90

  • Alex Petrovic has been the man of the hour on many occasions.

    From 1962 to 1966, Petrovic served as a Missouri state representative, his district including the Truman Home in Independence. In 1965, he established the Missouri State Archives.

    • email print
  •  By Adrianne DeWeese
    Alex Petrovic has been the man of the hour on many occasions.
    From 1962 to 1966, Petrovic served as a Missouri state representative, his district including the Truman Home in Independence. In 1965, he established the Missouri State Archives.
    Petrovic was among those who helped bring the professional sports stadiums to the Kansas City area, and he had a role in naming the complex after Harry Truman. While working at St. Joseph Hospital, Petrovic helped bring the first air ambulance, LifeFlight, to the Kansas City area.
    But in the fall sunshine early Sunday afternoon, Petrovic took on a different kind of a man of the hour persona. Sitting on a chair, surrounded by family members on the front lawn of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Independence, Petrovic’s slender arms and legs were crossed, his cane resting on the back of the chair.
    The man of the hour had his finest hour, waiting as extended family members gathered to surround him for a portrait in a day celebrating his 90 years of life.
    Born Sept. 23, 1922, in Kansas City, the son of immigrants from Yugoslavia, Petrovic moved to Independence at U.S. 24 and Kiger Road in 1929, when the city’s population was a mere 16,000 residents, he said. On July 13, 1942, the 128-pound Petrovic joined the Marine Corps and went overseas to serve in the South Pacific, where he contracted malaria a handful of times.
    While serving his country, Alex exchanged letters with a Sugar Creek girl – his “best friend,” Alex says – named Frances M. Diesko. They married in 1944 and remained together until Fran’s death in 2001.
    “I got in all kinds of trouble with my father because I married a Catholic girl,” Petrovic says of his Serbian Orthodox background. “She was my best friend when I joined the Marines – just a beautiful woman and my friend while I was in the Marines. She wrote me the most beautiful letters.”
    In his four years as the Eastern District judge for Jackson County, Petrovic had some contact with the Trumans, as well as during his time in the Sertoma Club.
    “I was nervous as hell,” Petrovic says of his first real encounter with Harry and Bess Truman. “I was still in awe of him, being a former president. He reached over, hit me on the leg and said, ‘I want you to treat me like an old shoe tonight. Let’s have some fun!’”
    Besides his extended family, which includes six children, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, Petrovic was joined Sunday by his best friend from William Chrisman High School, Frank Adams, who now lives in Atherton, Mo.
    Petrovic still lives alone in his Sugar Creek home, where his hobbies include canning banana peppers and popping popcorn. He was an avid tennis player and runner until he suffered a stroke 20 years ago.
    Page 2 of 2 - Prairie Village, Kan., resident Alex Petrovic II, the second oldest of Alex Sr.’s six children, says his father is a good role model as a spouse, as a father and as a community member.
    Recently, the former Rockwood Golf Club has made news after it closed as a golf course and was sold to new owners. But 50 years ago, the golf club was host to one of Petrovic’s best memories.
    “This was the greatest night of my life,” Petrovic said at the time of presenting former President Truman with the Sertoma Club’s first Service-to-Mankind award. “He’s just wonderful and put me at my ease.”
     
        • »  EVENTS CALENDAR