The loss of a great patriot of both his homelands, the USA and Croatia, is a great one. Our pride in his achievements inspires hope that the CFU will continue to grow and produce new generations of tamburitza players of Croatian extraction and guardians of the language and traditions of the old homeland.
A commemoration was held at the headquarters of the Croatian Fraternal Union on the 17th of December on the occasion of the passing of Bernard M. Luketich (1931–2015), the long time national president of the Croatian Fraternal Union of America. All those who gathered for the commemoration – friends, associates and admirers of Luketich the man and his work – were addressed by CHF director Marin Knezović, Ivana Perkušić of the State Office for Croats Abroad, Ante Beljo, ambassador Gordan Bakota, honorary consul to New Zealand Nikola Jelinčić and former Croatian President Stjepan Mesić. The event was moderated by Mirjana Piskulić, head of the CHF Emigrant Communities Information Department. 
The memory and many virtues of CFU national president emeritus Bernard M. Luketich were recalled in moving speeches – his work as the initiator of the National Federation of Croatian Americans and the Croatian American Professional and Business Association of Pittsburgh, as a high ranking official in the National Fraternal Congress of America (now the American Fraternal Alliance), as the mayor of Cokeburg, as a miner’s son, a miner himself, soldier, tamburitza player and a brilliant promoter of Croatian culture and heritage. He served at the post of national president of the CFU, the oldest Croatian fraternal association, to which he was elected democratically nine times, for a full thirty-six years, from 1978.
He died on the 8th of December. Following his burial many members of the CFU, to which he had remained loyal to his dying day, gathered at the Croatian civic centre in his native town to say their farewell to their fraternal comrade. Proving himself as one of the leading intellectual figures of the North American Croatian Diaspora of our day he was a great and proven friend of the Croatian Heritage Foundation and the homeland of his ancestors, in which the CFU on several occasions staged successful tamburitza festivals. We can consider the creative culture, education, sports and humanitarian programmes he launched as Luketich’s indubitable legacy, the positive fruits of which are enjoyed by the current numerous CFU membership in the United States of America, Canada and Croatia.
The loss of a great patriot of both his homelands, the USA and Croatia, is a great one. Our pride in his achievements inspires hope that the CFU will continue to grow and produce new generations of tamburitza players of Croatian extraction and guardians of the language and traditions of the old homeland. 
A video was screened at the commemoration of his receipt of a Charter of the Republic of Croatia awarded to Luketich in 2014 by then Croatian President Ivo Josipović. Those on hand had an opportunity to record their thoughts in a book of condolences that will be sent to the mourning family in America. The Gazde tamburitza band and the Tamburgeri was on hand playing their music – a fitting tribute to an exceptional promoter of their music.
(dšš)

Photos by: Ratko Mavar