Željka Lešić played an active role in organising the first Croatian World Games, both as a journalist and as the director of the homeland headquarters of the Croatian World Congress. Last year she also served as the secretary of the Games. She ran articles on migrant topics and interviews with our people abroad in numerous print and electronic weeklies and monthlies such as the Roman Catholic Glas Koncila magazine, Hrvatski Fokus, the CFU Zajedničar in the USA, Australian-based Hrvatski Vjesnik and Nova Hrvatska and former Australian magazines Maestral and Spremnost
Željka Lešić, a long time journalist with the Croatian Heritage Foundation’s Matica magazine passed away in Zagreb on the 26th of April in her sixtieth year after a brief and serious illness. She was always friendly and open with her colleagues and in particular with the people living in the minority and emigrant communities abroad. She always treated the subjects she dealt with as a journalist objectively, but with an emphasised personal approach, thanks to her unassailable patriotism and compassion for other people, her reliability, diligence and honesty, all of which earned her a great number of acquaintances, friends and admirers in the country and among the Croatian communities abroad.
Željka Lešić was born in Cerni, attended school in Vinkovci and studied law in Zagreb, where she began her professional career as a journalist as an associate of the Zagreb-based Vikend magazine and as the anchor of a music radio show on Radio Zaprešić. She began working for the Croatian Heritage Foundation in 1994 and wrote articles for Dom i Svijet (Home and the World), a weekly supplemental section of the international issue of the Večernji List newspaper. She wrote for all 440 issues that ran from 1994 to 2004. Along with her articles in the Matica monthly magazine, where she also sat on the editorial board, she also penned articles for the CHF’s Croatian Emigrant Almanac and the CHF web portal.
Reporting on the Hrvatska Priča (Croatian Story) project – created with the help of the Croatian Heritage Foundation, state operated broadcaster Croatian Radio and Television, the Croatian National Tourism Board, the City of Zagreb department for culture and others – which has since 2002 presented our country to the rest of Europe, Australia and South Africa through the performances of top artists, she forged permanent friendships and business contacts with individuals and leaders among the Croatian overseas communities. As a reporter in 2009 she accompanied presentations of our traditional culture in Canada (with the Šumari Culture & Arts Society of Vinkovci) and in Australia (with the Zagreb-based Venčec Folklore Ensemble).
Željka played an active role in organising the Croatian World Games in Zadar in 2006 and 2010, both as a journalist and as the director of the homeland headquarters of the Croatian World Congress. Last year she also served as the secretary of the Games held in Zagreb, which gathered some eight hundred young athletes of Croatian extraction from all around the world.
She published articles on migrant topics and interviews with our people from across the globe and wrote about the lives of migrants in numerous print and electronic weeklies and monthlies such as the Roman Catholic Glas Koncila magazine, Hrvatski Fokus, the CFU Zajedničar in the USA, Australian-based Hrvatski Vjesnik and Nova Hrvatska and former Australian magazines Maestral and Spremnost.
We will never forget our Željka, our friend and colleague, our always-smiling Slavonian lady. We’ll remember the times together, the projects we worked on together, and the happy and sad moments at the CHF. We wish to remember her gaze and voice, her optimism and enthusiasm, the inspired words in which she recounted the lives, hopes and dreams of so many diverse people. We are, now, at a want for words to express everything she was, and even more so for what she remains for all of us and for the many others who cherished and loved her. We say our goodbye to Željka with the lines of a poem she loved: Otišla je pijetli kad se bude, kao da u šetnju nekud kreće. Otišla je s mirisima jutra, da l’ je znala da se vratit neće (To the waking rooster she went / As if off somewhere for a stroll / To the scents of morning she repaired / Knowing she’d not return?).
Željka’s grieving colleagues at the Croatian Heritage Foundation