Client Feature : Luke KucaricSubmitted by Pelorus Financial Group on March 31st, 2017
By Sarah Glink
Luke Kucaric is a storyteller, he draws you in with every word. Luke is also a first-generation immigrant from Croatia. He comments, “It was a difficult life for us as a Christian family living in a communist country.” Luke’s father owned and operated a bakery. But when he disagreed with his government, that business was taken from him. When Luke was seventeen, his family came to the United States as refugees sponsored by the St Paul Croatian Church. Shortly after settling in Cleveland, he joined a local Croatian soccer club. It was at one of his soccer matches that Luke met his wife, Georgiann. Georgiann’s family immigrated from Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, when she was nine. While dating, she helped Luke to learn English. Luke and Georgiann were married at St. Paul nearly four years later.
Luke believes that first generation immigrants are unique, particularly those who have escaped tyranny. “They will work hard and sacrifice anything because they realize that in this country if you set your mind to something you can do it.” Failure can be something that propels you to success instead of dooming you to a life of poverty. “If you fall down, just pick yourself up. You are going to fall. Get back up! I had only nine years of school, and I couldn’t speak English when I came to this country. God gave me a mind to use, and I just had to use it. Nowhere else in the world can you be what you choose to make yourself – that is the American dream.”
Luke’s lack of English made it difficult for him to complete school in the U.S, so he took a job in a local machine shop with his father and brother. From the time he began working, Luke dedicated himself to learning every machine. “In today’s world, a lot of kids are afraid to ask questions, but people like to help. All you need to do is just ask and admit that you don’t know something. How are you going to learn unless you ask someone who knows?” As Luke learned to operate more challenging machines, he had the opportunity to transfer his skills and knowledge to another Cleveland shop that allowed him to operate the automatic machines. When Luke was around thirty, he and a friend started their own machine shop, which Luke and his brother later co–owned. Years later they sold their company, with an interesting condition. The new owner insisted that Luke’s talent and work ethic come with the business. Luke, who always enjoyed the craft of creating things, was happy to stay.
Luke and his family have returned regularly to visit Lostovo, the island where he was born. Lostovo is just off the southern end of Croatia, very near Italy. “It’s really wonderful now in Croatia. It’s not totally commercialized, so there are so many unique things to see. There is a palace that is more than 2000 years old, and they are uncovering Roman ruins on the island.” Lostovo was owned by Roman emperors, and there were slaves working in the grape and olive fields. Many people on the island, including Luke’s extended family, still operate vineyards and grow olives. “If you like heat and swimming and warm sun, then the summer is the best time to visit. If you like peace and quiet, then going in the fall is excellent. The weather is beautiful and the island is beautiful. You can go by cruise ship and see all the islands on the way to Lostovo. You can stay in these beautiful apartments right on the water front. The apartments are in the second floor of many homes, and they are operated like bed and breakfasts.” Luke urges, “Go to Lostovo!”
We are thrilled to have Luke as a client and have enjoyed hearing his stories for many years now. “People always want me to speak about the differences between where I’m from and here. The truth is - anywhere in the world if you are nice to people you will get that back, but America is unique. I love this country dearly. I’ve been a lot of places, but I’m an American first because what we have here is so great.” Luke goes on to say that, “There are some people that come here and want to change what this country is. I would give anything to keep this country what it is. Only here can we let the people be free to think and create. We are the greatest country in the world because of the unique blend of freedom and diversity that we enjoy.”