Anton “Tony” “Tonko” Oblack Born in Veli Rat, on the island of Dugi Otok, Croatia 10-11-1922 Anton passed away on Palm Sunday in the beloved home he built. He left this earth held in the arms and hearts of his loving family. Anton was a survivor. His life experiences were ones that books are written and movies made of. Growing up under difficult circumstances Anton left home at the age of 14 to sail as a merchant seaman. During the turmoil of WWII Anton narrowly escaped execution, survived months in a prison camp, long months of hiding in and around his village and finally escaping Yugoslavia by “borrowing” the skiff from the island’s lighthouse and rowing across the Adriatic Sea to Italy. He used his special skills as a fabulous cook to survive the remainder of the war in Italy by cooking for American and British officers as the front moved north from Ancona where he had landed. It was there that he met his future wife, Josephine Bajc. In 1947 Anton immigrated to Argentina where he lived for seven years. In 1952, with wife and son, he immigrated to the United States and here to Bainbridge Island, joining the local Croatian community. Anton and family were sponsored by his aunt and uncle, Bainbridge Island residents, Lina and John Ugles. Summers were spent commercial fishing in the Bering Sea. When the fishing season ended Anton worked as a master brick mason, a skill he learned in Argentina. His stonework still survives in many island homes today. Later in life he worked the docks of the Seattle waterfront and retired as a longshoreman (ILWU Local 19). Anton was a man of few words but lived his life by the “old country” values of hard work, honesty, family, faith and a handshake that was his word. He lived his life connected to the earth and was in sync with the seasons, winds and tides. His annual vegetable garden was his pride and joy. With will, hard work and sheer determination, Anton worked, built and lived his American dream. We will forever miss his bountiful garden, special Dalmatian meals, distinctive accent, his incredible generosity and kindness, his sparkling blue eyes and a smile that was so special. He is survived by his son Mario (Susan) of Bainbridge Island, daughter Kathy LaBelle (Marc) of Seattle, grandchildren Mara, Marko, Andrew of Seattle, sisters Anita and Blazenka of Croatia and the mother of his children and lifelong friend, Josie. The family wishes to thank his caregivers of the past two years, especially Terry, John, Todd, Julie, Olgaluisa, Richard and Lillian.
A Rosary was held Tuesday, April 23 and the Funeral Mass was Wednesday, April 24 at St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Bainbridge Island. Internment is at Calvary Cemetery in Seattle. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations be made to St. Cecilia Church or the Seattle Junior Tamburitzans (PO Box 77261,Seattle, WA. 98177) or a charity of choice.