Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Sarah 'Smily' Smiljanich

WAKEFIELD, Mich. - Sarah "Smily" Smiljanich, 94, of Wakefield, died surrounded by her loving sons on Wednesday, July 10, 2019.

The former Sarah Batinich was born on June 14, 1925, in Verona, a daughter of Bogdan and Anna (Dukich) Batinich. She was the youngest of seven children.

Sarah attended Verona School and graduated in 1943 from Wakefield High School. After graduation, she moved to Milwaukee to work at a defense plant during World War II.

On July 27, 1946, Sarah married the love of her life Joseph F. Smiljanich of Anvil Location, Bessemer. They were married 65 years and were blessed with two sons, Joseph Jr. and Thomas.

Sarah was a wonderful homemaker, wife, mother, sister and aunt. She loved to cook, bake, knit, crochet, sew, read and do puzzles and crafting. She was an avid bowler and competed in many national tournaments. Her walnut roll strudel and Serbian delicacies will be missed.

After 45 years of employment, Sarah retired as the cafeteria manager at Indianhead Mountain Resort in Wakefield where she met many wonderful people who became friends.

Sarah was a faithful member of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church of Duluth, Minn., and a dedicated life member of the Ladies' Auxiliary to Wakefield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9084. In her younger days, Sarah was a Den Mother, was active in the PTA and played, sang and danced with the Gogebic Range Tamburitzans. She was very proud of her Serbian heritage and spoke fluent Serbian.

Sarah is survived by her sons, Joseph Jr. and Thomas, both of Wakefield, whom she loved with all her heart; and many special nieces and nephews and their families.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her beloved husband, Joseph, on Dec. 27, 2011; four brothers, Dan, Nick, Mike and George Batinich; two sisters, Rose Kuismi and Mary Nelson; three nieces, Shirley Gurtner, Lori Fracker and Soja Gaich; and two nephews, Nick Batinich Jr. and Joseph Batinich.

The family will greet relatives and friends on Thursday, July 18, from 9 to 10:45 a.m., at the VFW Post 9084, 107 E. U.S. 2, Wakefield, followed by a memorial service under the auspices of the Ladies' Auxiliary. The Reverend Father Kristijan Petrovich, pastor of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, will officiate the service at 11 a.m.

A committal service and interment will take place at Lakeside Cemetery, Wakefield with a luncheon to follow at the VFW.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Jerald Rocco, owner and manager of Lakeside Memorial Chapel Inc., in Wakefield. Condolences may be expressed online at