Branko was born to Josip and Marija Jakominic in the village of Sveti Vid on the island of Krk, Croatia. He was the youngest of 7 children. As the baby of the family with 19 years separating him and his eldest brother, he shared a special unique bond with each of them. As distance separated them, he was the glue that kept them all connected.
Family was more important to him than anything else. He had an acute awareness of the importance of a life lived with the ones you love. He was a rare combination of someone who had a love of life and a firm understanding of what was important — Family.
Of all the people he loved, the one person that held his heart through 55 years of marriage was his wife Katica. Their love is everlasting. Their unbreakable bond began in Crikvenica, Croatia where they met. Branko finished French Culinary School and was an executive chef and Katica a waitress at the seaside Hotel Esplanade on the Adriatic Sea.
They married in 1964 and their family would grow with the birth of their eldest daughter Ksenija (“Sandy”) and son Ivica (“John”). In 1970, Branko took a leap of faith and moved his family to America to open the doors of opportunity for his children. He worked as a chef at the Racquet Club in Philadelphia but soon switched careers to homebuilding and real estate development. A few years later, their third child was born, his namesake Branko Jr. His family was now complete.
His children were his crowning achievement of whom he was so proud. He taught them through his words of wisdom as well as by example. He demonstrated the importance of faith in God, compassion for others, generosity to those in need, and being thankful for all that you have by how he led his own life.
When John married Camellia and Sandy married Richard, Branko gained another daughter and son. They were like his own. He took extreme pride in his four grandchildren – Kristijan (18), Daniel (15), Matthew (13) and Benjamin (11). They were his best buds. He relayed to them everlasting words of wisdom and acts of love that they will remember throughout their lifetimes. He was not only their Dede (grandfather), he was their hero.
Branko was a man of devoted faith. He was an altar server for Father Anthony Spicijaric in Croatia when he was a young boy and later as an adult would read and sing during Croatian masses for Father Anthony in Philadelphia. Branko was so proud of his Croatian roots and instilled that pride in his family. His family took many trips to Croatia together to make certain the family on both sides of the ocean stayed close. Branko loved to dance – he and Katica would glide across the dance floor with so much joy. Their home was always filled with family and friends. There wasn’t a family event he would miss and he so enjoyed his time with his extended family in America. He loved to play cards and bocce with dear friends and family on Sundays at the local Croatian club. In his later years, Branko used his expertise in homebuilding to help so many with renovations in their homes including building homes for his children and their families. He took pride in his craftsmanship and his work ethic was bar none. He continued his joy of cooking as a hobby and would relay that love to his children and grandchildren. He was a man of many talents and it seemed there was nothing he couldn’t do as he humbly applied them.
He was also an uncle, cousin, teacher, mentor and friend to so many who all loved him dearly. He left us too soon after fighting a yearlong battle with Lung Cancer. There is a strength in good people that continues after passing. They continue to live through their words of wisdom and acts of kindness but mostly through the heartfelt love they showed to others. He touched so many lives and his memory and legacy will never be forgotten by those who knew him.
Relatives and friends are invited to the visitation on Saturday, October 19, from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM at The Catholic Church of St. Mary, 2001 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, NJ. A funeral mass will be at 11:15 AM at the church. Interment will be held at a later date in Croatia, where he was born. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation at www.lungcancerresearchfoundation.org or to Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice at 5 Eves Dr # 300, Marlton, NJ 08053.