A Man Of Substance


A Father’s Wisdom And Legacy

“My father didn’t tell me how to live, he lived and let me watch him do it.”

~Clarence B. Kelland~

My daddy, the man who raised me with love and taught me to seek knowledge and explore the world while I am still living, closed his eyes last year. Life certainly changed from that point on and has made me reflect on his profound wisdom throughout his life.  In all honesty, I can’t grieve that loss because the gravity of memories reminds me of a life lived with purpose and meaning.

There is nothing as wonderful as past pains that become occasions to smile—when churning waves still and become calm seas—for that is when sadness gives way to gratefulness.

Professionally as the 2nd youngest of 4, I went out to sow my own oats and pursued something different yet very related to the industry and the number of jobs my father had.  I was fortunate enough to pick up on some of my father’s deepest passions – hard work, family, and advocacy.  The irony of it all is that I am more like my father than I ever could have imagined.

My youngest brother sent me this tribute that was written for my father by the Croatian community in Victoria, I believe it’s a good reflection of the choices we all have, to stand for what we believe in and the legacy we can all leave behind.

 “A father is one of God’s first gifts to our hearts and his love stays with us always”

~Holley Gerth~

This is for YOU, Dad:

“Starting with this edition of our Croatian Cultural Gazette, we will be acknowledging those that contribute (or have contributed) to the building of our community.  We start with a tribute to Mijat Matković who passed away recently.

Mijat (“Lola”) was born in Jasenice, Croatia on January 12, 1931.  He was the fifth eldest of 8 eight children.  Like many of that generation, Mijat learned about hard work and sacrifices at a very early age.  This strong work ethic carried him through his entire life.

In March 1957, he left his homeland and entered Italy through Trieste and landed in Capua, Italy where he met and married Marija (Maria) Jadreško in May 1960.  In September of the same year, they left Italy by boat for Canada.  They arrived in Quebec in November and then traveled to Victoria, arriving in December 1960.

As a landed immigrant, Mijat worked at many jobs in Victoria, his longest stint was with Chew Excavating until his early retirement at the age of 52.  

What makes Mijat stand out is his intense patriotism for his beloved Croatia.  A dedicated advocate, he participated in all efforts that led to the freedom of Croatia when it was ruled by communism and later, during the Croatian war of independence in the 1990’s.

For his contributions to the war effort in 1991, Croatian president Dr. Franjo Tuđman awarded Mijat the “Red Hrvatskog Pletera” metal.  Mijat cherished this metal because it represented not only his donations to the war effort, but ultimately, freedom for Croatia – a freedom for which he, like many others, desperately struggled and, now, finally won.

Order of the Croatian Interlace

Wikipedia –The Order of the Croatian Interlace or Order of the Early Croatian three-strand pattern is the sixteenth most important medal given by the Republic of Croatia. The order was founded on April 1, 1995. The medal is awarded for the advancement of progress and reputation of Croatia and the welfare of its citizens. It is named after the Croatian Interlace, a traditional Croatian ornamental design, an interwoven series of branches used as a wall or barrier.

He was one of the original Victorians who participated in the building of our Croatian Catholic Church.   An avid promoter of Croatian sports, he was also a co-founder of the buce playing field at the church where he spent many Sundays playing buce games and tournaments.  His love of Croatian sports also included a friendly game of briškula and trešeta and cheering for the Croatian soccer team during FIFA world cups was a must!  His sense of humor was contagious and his ability to tell a good joke was invaluable, especially during friendly competition!

An avid walker, Mijat was known to walk over 10 kilometers every day (without a Fitbit!).  He also loved his Croatian music.  Favorite musicians included Mate Bulić and Marko Perković Thompson.  He also spent many hours designing the perfect landscape in his backyard, while listening to Bulić and Thompson.

He loved to bake bread and from what most of us remember, his bread was second to none!  Several people encouraged him to start his own bakery, but the urgings never came to fruition.   His “Dida Lola pizza’s” were also the best, not to mention that he was an expert at barbecuing lambs and pigs on an open spit, too.  He knew how to cook Croatian specialties and fed many friends and guests.  In a word, he was “selfless” when it came to others, including his family, friends and the Croatian community.

The Victoria Croatian community has lost a good man, but his good deeds remain in many facets of our community.  Thank you, Lola, for your contributions to enabling a thriving Croatian culture and community in Victoria!

My daddy was my hero of all heroes for many reasons; it was he who insisted that I never rest on my laurels and to never be content with being average. He pushed me all the time to learn more, to seek knowledge with tenacity and to challenge conventional wisdom. Above all, he taught me to be independent and to not be anyone’s project.

My father used to tell me that mankind can take everything from you, but they can never take away what you know or who you are at the core.

I am happy remembering my dad’s love instead of grieving his absence because he taught many by the way he lived. He walked with his head held high and when he shook your hand and looked you in your eyes, you knew you were special. He showed us that every single person or living thing has value and worth and much grace should be given….…. because you never know the battle that someone else is fighting.

Grief and loss don’t go away, and at the same time, it doesn’t prevent us from planting beautiful things – resilience, optimism, positivity, compassion, kindness, or extending a helping hand or lending an ear to others.

I wouldn’t trade a lifetime with my father or his example for anything in this world and I realize how truly blessed I am. In the 2+ years, we had him over and above what was expected I know that I wasn’t the only one to learn a great deal more about the kind of man he was.  He was a man of substance and profound depth and understanding of the greater depths of human nature, both good and bad and the why of everything in between.

As President Teddy Roosevelt spoke of in his address titled “the man in the arena” he said:

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Never forget that your integrity is more important than who likes or dislikes you.  When everything is said and done, be your true self and if you don’t know who that is, go find you.

 “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”

~Albert Einstein~

You only have one life, GO LIVE IT AND DO SOMETHING GREAT!

Suzana Matkovic
Suzana Matkovic
SUZANA has a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks. With the guidance of a loving family, she aspired to the best job of Life: Motherhood. People that know her journey will understand how this beautiful and tragic chapter forged her resilience and tenacity to bring her passions to life by being part of the change. Upon graduation in 84, she moved into an extremely successful 30-year career. Nonetheless, she walked away from it in 2014, in order to pursue something more personally meaningful. A School of Life that enabled her to meet people of different nationalities, cultures, races, languages and outlooks, is what she sought. She is an avid advocate and volunteer motivated to help others reach their full potential by raising awareness of numerous social issues affecting many and establishing a legacy for change. Suzana’s training and experience have provided her with a unique foundation from which to produce communication that is Significant, Relevant and Actionable. Her knowledge in sales/business development and marketing started in the early 90’s where she received numerous awards for innovation, customer satisfaction and quality management. She has worked in all business categories: Local Government, Manufacturing and Distribution, Logistics and Lumber Export. Some of the more notable products and services were sold into the Environmental Energy Sector and building products that represented Structural, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Architectural Engineering. In addition to Marketing initiatives for various NGOs and causes near and dear to her heart. All this was accomplished by a high school graduate with determination, vision and passion. She attributes her success to many wonderful mentors throughout her personal and professional life and the inner strength God blessed her with.


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Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler

You know I love this. Storytelling at it’s best

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson

Your father Left an indelible legacy that proved life changing to you and people who took his integrity and character and adopted them as their own lifestyle. I love this quote. “My father used to tell me that mankind can take everything from you, but they can never take away what you know or who you are at the core.” Nobody can take your knowledge or memories away from you. They are yours to keep forever.



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