A great man is one who collects knowledge the way a bee collects honey and uses it to help people overcome the difficulties they endure - hunger, ignorance and disease!
- Nikola Tesla

Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
- Franklin Roosevelt

While their territory has been devastated and their homes despoiled, the spirit of the Serbian people has not been broken.
- Woodrow Wilson

Alaska became a US state thanks to a Montenegrin Serb you’ve never heard of

By Darko Dudić (97)

Few of you will have heard of Mike Stepovich but his story is quite something. Son of a stowaway. He rose to become a prominent lawyer and governor. Father of 13. It’s thanks to Mike Stepovich that Alaska became the 49th state of the USA.

Before our story begins, I want to make one thing clear. Mike Stepovich did not wheedle Alaska from the Russians. That 2-cents-per-acre steal was done and dusted a century earlier.

What Mike did do was sweet-talk sceptical locals and the federal government to promote the US territory into a fully fledged state. He was so effective, he had talked himself out of his job as governor.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Lets start with his father, known confusingly as ‘Wise’ Mike Stepovich.

Picture the lovely Bay of Kotor back in the 1890s, an impoverished backwater of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Marko Stijepović grew up at the family homestead on the hillside above the Risan, the oldest settlement in the bay.

He would watch ships come and go destined for all corners of the world and in 1892, aged just 18, decided to stowaway on one of them. He landed on Staten Island New York with no passport or visa and had to rely on ‘Yugoslav’ friends to help him gain US citizenship.

When news broke through the Great Klondike gold rush, Marko quickly resolved to head north and set up shop as a trader of gold pans and the like.

But there was one obstacle – a band of outlaws headed up by Soapy Smith who demanded a ‘toll’ from anyone using their trail. So Marko skirted around and made a new trail avoiding the bandits.

The event is recalled in the form of Soapy Smith’s Restaurant in Fairbanks, Alaska, owned and operated by one of his grandsons Nick Stepovich.

By this time Marko Stijepović had become known as ‘Wise’ Mike Stepovich.

‘Wise’ Mike Stepovich would go on to amass financial fortune and asked for the hand of Olga Barta, a pretty Croatian woman from Portland Oregon. But the match was ill-fated and after a year she left after deciding that life in the wilds of Fairbanks Creek was definitely not for her.

In 1919, the fruit of this union was another Marko Stepovich, who would become known as Mike Stepovich II.

The couple divorced and both would eventually remarry.

Olga took Mike Jnr back to Oregon but when he reached the same 18-year-itch, he joined his father’s business up in in Fairbanks during the summer. During the winter he studied at university, gaining degrees in art and law.

Mike II had enlisted for the US Navy during WW2, when he heard news of his father’s death in 1944.

The apple did not fall far from the tree. Mike too would go on to take a Croatian wife Matilda Baričević from Portland Oregon. The pair settled in his father’s apartment in Fairbanks where he would practise law.

They had thirteen children.

During his tenure as a trial lawyer, Mike could boast that none of his clients ever received the death penalty. For those who could not afford a lawyer, he accepted payment in kind – native village handiwork, the family’s first TV set and snow skis.

These were extraordinary times in the city as you might glean from the saying:

"If you weren’t Yugoslavian during the 1930s and ’40s in Fairbanks, you didn’t go far."

Figures in the world of businesses and politics in Fairbanks included Jackovich Tractor, Model Cafe operated by Steve and Milo Hajdukovich, who owned other commercial properties, Senator John Butrovich and inventor John Miscovich.

But it was also a tough time for those prospectors who came, lived and died in Alaska without ever forming the families they yearned for.

Matilda recalled strolling down Second Avenue in Fairbanks with their firstborn daughter Antonia. She’d hear calls of “Dalmatinka!” in Serbian and gifts of silver dollars into the baby’s pram.

“Having no family, (these prospectors) vanished with the wind, without a trace,” she observed.

Mike Stepovich embarked on a political career and in 1957 became the Governor of Alaska Territory.

Many of us think that places like Puerto Rico as island states in the Americas. Actually some are sovereign territories of the USA. While they are politically more autonomous than a state, they exercise certain prerogatives with inhabitants being US nationals or citizens and having limited representation in Congress.

Alaska had been a territory of the United States since 1912.

Mike Stepovich strongly felt it should be a fully fledged state. But he had a battle to fight on two fronts.

Fellow Alaskans were weary of federal government sticking its beak into their business. President Dwight Eisenhower was also sceptical of the merits of including this remote and sparsely populated territory into the fold.

But Stepovich was both skilled, persistent and charming. He lobbied far and wide and chose his moments well.

Like the time Eisenhower called for reservists from Alaska to be mobilised for the Vietnam War en masse. That seemed as good a time as any to persuade the President of the merits of raising Alaska to the rank of federal statehood.

Eisenhower eventually conceded and in 1959 Alaska became the 49th state of America, just pipping Hawaii.

The governor of a territory could no longer govern a state so Stepovich ran for state senator and then twice for governor as a Republican. But the political pendulum had swung towards the Democrats. Stepovich returned to a career in law.

The Stepoviches would get together for regular reunions under the strong matriarchal influence of Vuka Radovic, whom ‘Wise’ Mike went on to marry in Risan in 1929.

There’s an interesting extract from another of Wise Marko’s sons in which he describes his father as a Serbian patriot.

Mike Stepovich II was more down-to-earth in an interview he gave to Time magazine in 1958, describing his father as a hard drinker, “rugged and sometimes mean-tempered”.

Mike Stepovich II died aged 95 due to head injuries following a fall.

He left behind a large family. And an even greater historical legacy.

Read more:

  • newspaperarchive.com/fairbanks-daily-news-miner-jul-17-1988-p-44/
  • nytimes.com/2014/02/20/us/mike-stepovich-led-alaska-to-statehood-dies-at-94.html
  • serbiantimes.info/da-li-ste-znali-jedan-crnogorac-otac-13-toro-dece-pripojio-je-aljasku-sad-u/?preview=true
  • njegos.org/emigrants/heartland.htm
  • legacy.com/obituaries/newsminer/obituary.aspx?n=mike-stepovich&pid=169722287
  • alaskamininghalloffame.org/inductees/stepovich.php

Source: Britić



People Directory

Bishop Hrizostom (Stolić)


After the death of Bishop Grigorije the Western Diocese was administered by Irinej, Bishop of Niš, from October 1985 until May 1986, and by Sava, Bishop of Šumadija, from July 1986 until May 1988.

The Holy Bishops’ Assembly at the regular session in May 1988 elected Archimandrite Hrizostom Stolić as a Bishop of the Western Diocese.

Bishop Hrizostom was born in 1939 in Ruma where he graduated from elementary school and middle school (High School). After High School he went to the Dečani Monastery where he took monastic vows. He was ordained to hierodeacon and hieromonk by Rt. Rev. Pavle, Bishop of Ras-Prizren. Soon afterwards he went to America to be at the service to his Church and people. He studied at the Seminary in the Russian Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. He then came to Chicago and helped the pastor at Holy Resurrection Church with his duties. He was appointed temporary pastor of St. George Church in East Chicago, Indiana in 1967. He remained there until 1969. For two years he established firm spiritual roots in the community. He felt a higher calling and responded to it. In 1969 he went to the Hilandar Monastery at Mount Athos in Greece, where he remained for nineteen years. There he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite by the Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Demitrius the First. At one time he was elected a Dean of Mount Athos. He was a librarian in the Hilandar Monastery. Along with the spiritual growth he advanced his intellectual dimensions. He published the Lives of the Holy Fathers in two volumes and the Liturgy of St. Apostle James, which he translated into the Serbian language.

Read more ...


Савремени еклисиолошки подсетник о Дијаспори

Историја и анализа тзв. „Америчког раскола“ (1963-1992) и предлози за његово превазилажење

Епископ Атанасије (Јевтић)

У издању Севастијан преса из Лос Анђелеса и Братства Св. Симона Мироточивог из Врњачке Бање, недавно је изашла нова књига Атанасија (Јевтића), умировљеног Владике херцеговачког, Савремени еклисиолошки подсетник о Дијаспори - Историја и анализа тзв. „Америчког раскола“ (1963-1992) и предлози за његово превазилажење.

Текст ове књиге је написан сада већ далеке 1990.године, и до данас био необјављен будући да је само за Синодске Оце Архијереје био намењен ради превазилажења тзв. „Америчког раскола“. Данас, када је тај српски раскол литургијски и административно превазиђен, сасвим је разумљиво и пожељно било да се овај текст предочи јавности.

На молбу Светог Архијерејског Синода, ондашњи јеромонах Атанасије је сва питања везана за болни раскол у српској дијаспори ставио под светлост православне Еклисиологије и Предања, што је био једини начин за њихово суочавање како би се дошло што ближе до зацељивања раскола. Читалац ће приметити како је он савесно и непристрасно проанализирао цело питање раскола и дао целисходне икономијске предлоге за његово решење. Ова књига је резултат његовог савесног христољубивог и црквољубивог рада.

Конкретан резултат Атанасијевог еклисиолошког предлога била је обнова евхаристијског општења и помирења које је постигнуто на празник Сретења Господњег, 15. фебруара 1992. године у Саборној Цркви у Београду, када су Српски Патријарх Павле и чланови Светог Архијерејског Сабора служили са Митрополитом Иринејем (Ковачевићем), дотадашњим епископом у расколу. Коначно, 21. маја 2009. године, Свети Архијерејски Сабор је донео одлуку и о коначном административном јединству Српске Цркве у Северној и Јужној Америци.

Истовремено, ова књига осветљава битно питање Дијаспоре. Дијаспора је пред Православну Цркву поставила два битна проблема: питање провере исправности нашег схватања Цркве, оног које се у последњим вековима код многих од нас усталило, и питање мисије Цркве у свету.

Књига је изашла са благословом Епископа новограчаничког и средњезападноамеричког Лонгина и Епископа западноамеричког Максима.

Књигу можете наручити по цени од $15 код:
Western American Diocese
1621 West Garvey Avenue Alhambra CA, 91803
847 571-3600, 626 289 9061, 626 284 1484 (fax), Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Visit our online store at http://westsrbdio.org/en/sebastian-press/sebastian-press-publications

Contemporary Ecclesiological Reminderon the Diaspora:
History and analysis of so called “American schism” (1963-1992) and recommendations for its overcoming

by Bishop Athanasius (Yevtich)

Recently, a new book by Athanasius (Yevtich), retired Bishop of Herzegovina, was published in Serbian by Sebastian Press of Los Angeles in cooperation with St. Simeon the Myrrh-streaming of Vrnjacka Banja.

This book was written in a now already distant year of 1990. This is its first publishing since the original intent was to have it available only for the hierarchs of the Holy Synod for the purpose of overcoming the so-called “American schism” within the Serbian diaspora. Presently, as the Serbian schism has been liturgically and administratively vanquished, it is understandable and desirable to have this valuable research available to the public.

At the request of the Holy Synod, back then hieromonk Atanasije acceded to collect all relevant documents in reference to painful schism in Serbian Diaspora, placing them in the light of Orthodox Ecclesiology and Holy Tradition, which was the only way to face it properly and bring it closer to healing.The readers will notice how Bishop Atanasije analyzed responsibly, and impartially the whole question of schism, and at the same time provided comprehensive, integral and thorough ecclesial economy, recomendations for solutions.This book is the result of his Christ-loving and Church-loving labor.

A tangible result of Atanasije's ecclesiological recommendation was the Eucharistic renewal, communion, and reconciliation which was established on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, February 15, 1992. At the Cathedral in Belgrade, His Holiness Patriarch Paul and hierarchs of the Holy Episcopal Assembly celebrated for the first time together since the schism, with Metropolitan Iriney (Kovacevic), up until then, schismatic bishop in Diaspora.Finally, on May 21, 2009, the Holy Assembly made a decission about conclusive administrative unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America.

In the same time this book reveals crucial question regarding Diaspora, because ecclesial organization of the Orthodox Church abroad presents itself with at least two problems: a) a check-up of our interpretation and comprehension of the Church, especifically of the last couple of centuries existing convictions, and b) a question of the Church mission in the World.

This book is published with the blessings of His Grace, Bishop Longin of New Gracanica - Midwestern America, and His Grace, Bishop Maxim of Western American Diocese, of the Serbian Orthodox Church for North and South America.

Price $15

Call us today with your order!
Western American Diocese
1621West Garvey Avenue Alhambra CA, 91803
847 571-3600, 626 289 9061, 626 284 1484 (fax), Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Visit our online store at http://westsrbdio.org/en/sebastian-press/sebastian-press-publications