(changed to Charles when he moved to the USA) was born on November 4, 1934 in Zohor, a small village in what is now Slovakia to Frantisek and Anna Valovic. His older brother, Tomas, was 2 years older. While growing up, the family grew vegetables on a plot of land on the outskirts of Zohor, and went to farmer's markets in neighboring towns to sell them. They had no indoor plumbing, heating or electricity. His parents put clay bricks in a wood burning stove, then in the bed that he shared with Tomas in order to stay warm at night. They didn't have enough money for socks or shoes, so they wrapped rags around their feet instead. Their father died when Charles was 10 years old, after being bedridden with tuberculosis for 2 years. During World War II, both German and Russian soldiers invaded the village, and the soldiers forcibly stayed in the villagers' houses, including theirs. When his mom made what little food they had for dinner, she also had to feed the soldiers that stayed in their house.
Growing up, Charles took the train to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, for high school and university. Charles and Tomas were the first in their family to attend university. Charles befriended a butcher who was on the way home from the train station, and the butcher would give him free meat for his family that was left over at the end of the day. He studied to be a mechanical engineer, and always received the highest marks in school. He married Daniela Urbanicova and they settled in an apartment in Bratislava. They had 3 children, Susan, George and Martha, each 4 years apart.
Charles was a successful engineer in Slovakia, working in the nuclear power, mechanical, and food industry fields, and had numerous patents. Despite his success, he and Daniela dreamed of freedom, a life without Communism. In 1980, they spent months preparing their escape. They applied for permission to leave the country for a summer vacation in a non-Communist country, planning on never returning, leaving their family and friends behind for what they thought would be forever. He took small amounts of money and hid it inside the frame of their small car. He knew that the government was watching bank accounts and would search the car and baggage for any sign of extra cash or out of season clothes. If they were caught, they would be thrown in jail and lose everything. In August of 1980, instead of going on a vacation, they went to neighboring Austria with their 3 small children. Austria, Australia, Canada, Switzerland and the United States were accepting political refugees at that time, and they chose to go to the United States. On February 24, 1981, the family of 5 landed in America with five suitcases, little money and no knowledge of the English language. They settled in Milwaukee, where Charles had a distant relative.
Charles and Daniela worked odd jobs during the day, and took English classes at MATC at night. Charles did some maintenance work at a Catholic school in exchange for free tuition for his children. After several months, Charles spoke English well enough to get a job as a mechanical engineer. He would spend the rest of his career working in the food industry, acquiring patents here as well.
Charles and Daniela attained the American dream. They worked hard and saved enough money to put their kids through college, and build a home of their own. The Valovic family was active in the Milwaukee Slovak church and community. When Daniela passed away from cancer at age 55, Charles started to cook and bake for the first time. He loved to sing, laugh, listen to Slovak music, eat good food and take his canine companions for walks. But most of all, he loved spending time with his 6 grandchildren, Alexa, Max, Axel, Zachary, Eleanor and Vivian. He is loved, and will be greatly missed.
Private inurnment at St. Joseph's Cemetery, Waukesha.
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