Berislava “Beri” (Tuskan) Miletich died in her sleep from natural causes Friday, Jan. 20, 2023 at Morningstar Happy Valley assisted living facility.
Beri was born June 20, 1930 to Maria and Nikola Tuskan, in Detroit, Mich., bracketed by two brothers, Zvonko “Nick”, two years older, and Emil, two years younger. In September 1938, Nikola decided to move the family back to Karlovac, Yugoslavia (present day Croatia), in spite of the the warnings that another war in Europe was inevitable. The family bought a large house and operated a successful restaurant on the premises. Beri was moved back to first grade since she spoke little Croatian.
In April 1941, the war did arrive to Croatia. Nikola became involved in the antifascist underground, and both parents were arrested in 1942, and killed in Jasenovac concentration camp, leaving the three American orphan kids to run the restaurant with the help of Nikola’s widowed sister. To her dying day Beri never got over her parents’ deaths.
In October 1952 Beri married Rudolf “Rudy” Miletich, and in July 1953, their only son John “Zvonko” was born. Beri graduated from the University of Zagreb and pursued a career in teaching middle school English. In 1968 Beri, as an American citizen, decided it was time to return to the U.S. after a 30 year absence. Rudy and Zvonko, who became John in America, were enthusiastic, and soon the family booked a passage on a ship that took them from the port of Rijeka with stops in Venice, Ancona, Naples, Genoa and Tangier before crossing the Atlantic, and landing in New York. The trip felt touristy as the family continued with a cross country train ride to Portland, with stops to visit Beri’s family in Cleveland and Detroit. Upon their arrival in Portland, Beri and Rudy quickly found jobs and John enrolled at Jefferson High School. Fluency in English eased the adjustment to their new life in Portland. Beri worked at David Douglas High School at the central office and attended PSU where she completed requirements for her Oregon teaching degree. She never did teach, except for a few years of summer school, and retired from David Douglas in 1993.
Rudy and Beri were socially active, and made many dear friends over the years. They loved to travel by car, and made many long trips up and down the West Coast and Canada. While Rudy and John took frequent trips back to Europe, Beri didn’t really want to, going back only in 1977 and in 2000, for her 50th high school reunion. Their favorite destinations on Oregon Coast were Cape Lookout and later Seaside, where they loved to take long strolls down the boardwalk.
In their retirement, besides their trips, Beri and Rudy took care of their three grandkids. Rudy played a great deal of tennis and golf, and Beri wrote a 500 page family biography. During the Yugoslav civil war in the early 90’s, Rudy and Beri created a fund that purchased an ambulance for the Karlovac hospital.
Both were writers and published articles in Croatian and English. Writing was Beri’s passion, and in the late 1980’s she joined “The Recollectors,” a writing group based at David Douglas that was active for over 20 years. The group formed a close knit family of memoir writers who were proud of the fact that a long article about their activity appeared in The Oregonian newspaper. Rudy died in January 2014 and Beri continued to live in their home of nearly 50 years until September of 2021, when she moved to Morningstar Assisted Living facility. In October 2019, Beri welcomed her first great-grandchild, Luca Hale, but was really sorry that she was unable to babysit him.
Her last, barely whispered words to John were: “You shouldn’t wear the same sweater every day.” Sharp wit until the last breath!
Beri is survived by her son, John and his wife, Barbara; grandsons, Rudy and Alex; granddaughter, Emily, her husband, Nathan Hale, and great-grandson, Luca Hale.
The family would like to thank the staffs of Morningstar Assisted Living of Happy Valley and Bristol Hospice for their kindness and loving care.
Memorial Mass for Beri will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, March 3, 2023, at St. Henry Catholic Church in Gresham. A private interment following the Mass will be at Gethsemane Catholic Cemetery in Happy Valley.
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