Josefina Ecimovic of Quinton, passed away January 26, 2023. She is survived by her sons, John (Kelly) and David (Laura); grandchildren, Kiel (Holly), Sean (Stephanie), Tiffany Rife and Brittany Granados; great-grandchildren, Maverick, Tori, Lexi and Zoey; and so many other cherished family members. She was preceded in death by her husband of 68 years, Mirko; her parents, Johan & Alosia Sattelmajer; brother, Joseph; sisters, Maria and Olga; Her sister Johanna passed away just days after on January 30, 2023; and granddaughter, Veronica “Roni.”
The youngest of five children, she was born in Bosanska Gradiska, Yugoslavia, in 1936. After surviving WWII in Slovenia, she and her family began the 300-mile journey home to Bosnia on foot. Along the way, they were robbed at gunpoint of all possessions – right down to their wooden spoons – leaving them to eat with sticks. Upon return to Bosnia, she and her immediate and extended family members were all interned by the communists in various concentration camps. The first camp was Stara Gradiska, which was notorious for atrocities against women and children, including forced labor, torture, starvation, and forced ingestion of toxins. They were then interned at Lamince, then at Aleksandrovac, where they spent most of their time. Finally, they were interned at Nova Topola, from which they were finally released on March 17, 1946. (Josefina’s father so passionately hated communists, his children were forbidden to wear red clothing or lipstick – so we never saw her wear anything red – ever.) Josefina rarely spoke about the atrocities she suffered during her childhood, instead focusing on and cherishing the relationships and strong family bonds created during those shared hard times. It was easy to see those bonds reflected in their eyes whenever she and those family members were together.
As her father undertook the long and arduous task of immigrating legally to America, 17-year-old Josefina met her soon-to-be husband Mirko, and elected to remain in Yugoslavia – much to her family’s dismay.
As a young mother separated from her own mother and with nobody to guide her, she took care of her children while maintaining her sustenance garden, her chickens, and her house (which had neither plumbing nor electricity) and somehow managed to create meals from nothing on a wood burning stove. Since she and her husband refused to join the communist party, they were denied access to electricity, education, and decent employment. She had wanted to return to school after the war to become a nurse but was not permitted to do so. On February 16, 1969, with the sponsorship of her parents, Josefina and her family boarded the plane to America where she fulfilled her dream of freedom and safety. She learned English and became an American citizen, she was proud to be an American and embraced all it had to offer.
Josefina, “Baba”, was THE Matriarch of our family. Strangers may not have known it by her quiet nature. However, she would tell you what you needed to know, even when you didn’t want to hear it. She would tell you what you needed to do, even when you didn’t want to do it. She was wise and insightful, shrewd and astute. Nothing got past her. She saw everyone and everything. If she was your friend, there was no one who was more devoted, loyal or protective. She loved her family with all her heart and soul. She was happiest with her family around, cooking the best meal you would ever eat.
She was the strongest person you would have ever met. You could depend on her, and you still can. Her strength of character will live on for generations. Baba’s legacy is an example of a good life, and our appreciation and love will never fade.
The family will receive friends from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 7 at Vincent Funeral Home, 9923 Pocahontas Trail, Providence Forge, Va. 23140, with the funeral service beginning at 11:30 a.m. Interment will follow in Washington Memorial Park.