Victor “Vic” Ernest Mikulich, 93, formerly of White Bear Lake, passed away Thursday, March 4, 2021.
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He was 100 percent Croatian and spent his life fully embracing all aspects of his heritage.
Born in the mining location of Puritan, Michigan, on May 10, 1927, he was a first-generation American who went on to be a first-generation college graduate, an electrical engineer, and a man who constantly showed love to his big family and many close friends. He grew up in small mining towns of the Upper Peninsula, and always praised the hard workers that made up their immigrant community.
Vic was one of 13 children born to Anton and Sofia, and youngest of the five who grew to adulthood. His beloved siblings, Walter, Mary, Sophie, and Rudy, had a substantial influence on his life. Wanting to be like his older siblings, Vic started school at age 4, and excelled with an intelligence that notably shined through his 90s. He constantly referenced the emphasis his parents placed on education, and went on to be a proud graduate of Michigan Tech.
Like his intelligence, Vic’s mischievousness and humor was striking. As a teenager, he was known as “Punk” and he famously managed to pass his driver’s test — despite crashing into the police station in a car with failing brakes. Later in his life, the stories of his many youthful escapades endlessly entertained his family and will go down as Mikulich folklore.
After graduating from Bessemer High School at 17, he moved to Detroit for a position at a tool and die shop, working 12-hour days as a skilled laborer during World War II. The job funded his college education, and after graduating from Michigan Tech in 1949 with an electrical engineering degree, he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. Because of his intelligence, he was sent to work at the Signal Corp Engineering Laboratory in White Sands, New Mexico from 1950-52.
During high school, Vic went to visit a friend on the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota and had a blind date with Marilyn Merrill. They stayed in touch writing letters after his return to Michigan, during the war, and when he moved to California after the war. Vic and Marilyn were married on Aug. 14, 1954 in her hometown of Ely, Minnesota.
After welcoming their daughter Johanna (Jean), they moved to White Bear Lake, and had three more daughters: Therese, Mary Rose, and Monica. Vic and Marilyn became involved members of the community, especially at St. Pius X Parish, and with the Knights of Columbus. They also spent many years in a Catholic Study Club, whose members all became lifelong friends.
Vic always remarked that he loved going to work every day, and he thrived in his career as a Professional Electrical Engineer. He worked for 3M, Hunt Electric, and Ellerbe Architects, where he was Head of the Electrical Engineering Department. He often designed the electrical systems for schools, hospitals and medical buildings, including the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. He was so proud of his work designing the lighting for the University of Notre Dame’s library and its famed “Touchdown Jesus” mural, that he hung a framed photo of the mural in the Mikulich family living room. He was praised by coworkers throughout his career and beloved by younger engineers whom he mentored.
After retirement, he enjoyed spending time with his 13 grandchildren and later, his seven great-grandsons. Two years after Marilyn’s death in 1998, Vic reacquainted with his high school classmate, Margaret, and they were married for 18 years.
He enjoyed traveling, especially to Arizona, Alaska, and made numerous trips to visit relatives in Croatia and Slovenia. Perhaps his favorite destination was the family cabin outside of Ely, Minnesota; he loved to sit on the porch and listen to the leaves in the breeze, and was enamored with the lake view.
From humble beginnings, Vic always appreciated both hard work and the simple things in life: a game of cribbage, a glass or two of Zinfandel, and listening to classical music. Even more importantly, his favorite foods: round steak and polenta, sarma, pasties, and the all-important walnut povitica — don’t forget the brandy! He was proud of his heritage and enjoyed numerous activities throughout his life with the Croatian Cultural Society, even attending Croatian language classes while in his 90s.
Vic was a man of strong faith and moral character. He spent his life committed to his wife, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandsons. Beyond his immediate family, he also had a great influence on, and was dearly loved by, his many nieces and nephews. He will be remembered for his intellectual curiosity, words of wisdom, captivating storytelling, and clever sense of humor.
We will miss him dearly.
Preceded in death by his parents, Anton and Sofia, 12 siblings, and wife Marilyn.
Survived by four daughters, Johanna (Mike) Peters, Therese (Rolley) Hull, Mary Rose (Dave) Edholm, Monica (Rick) Schaber; thirteen grandchildren, Michael (Erin) Peters, Jackie (Edwin) Sanchez, Carly Peters; Angela Hull, Maria (Patrick) Raines; Luke Edholm, Anthony (Deseree) Edholm, Rosa (Sungjun Kim) Edholm, David (Chandra) Edholm, AnnaMaria Edholm, Greta Edholm; Marissa (Kyle) Shannon, Anna Schaber; and 7 great-grandsons, Jackson, Cameron, Landon; Jacob, Andrew; Hunter; Leo.
Visitation will be held from 10-11am on Friday March 12 at Honsa Family Funeral Home 2460 E County Rd E, White Bear Lake, MN 55110.
Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11:30am at St. Pius X Catholic Church 3878 Highland Ave, White Bear Lake, MN 55110.
In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to the family to be donated to Vic‘s favorite charities
Live streaming Mass at https://churchofstpiusx.org/spxlive .