Jelena Fritsch fell asleep peacefully at the age of 83 on November 14, 2023, surrounded by family.
Our hearts are tender as we ponder the exceptional life of Jelena. She is a beloved wife, mother, grand mother, sister, aunt, and friend. Oh, how we miss her. She is everything to us. We are grateful she is now free from pain and suffering. We rejoice in the reunions taking place in Heaven and her happiness in seeing family and friends who have gone before her.
Jelena was born on May 26, 1940 in Serbia, the first-born daughter of Djuro and Mara (Kopun) Shuput. Djuro and Mara were blessed with a son only 13 months later. Jelena was born and lived in Serbia until she, her mother and brother left Serbia in 1954 to reunite with her husband Djuro in Omaha, Nebraska, after a 9½-year separation due to the world war. Jelena was almost 14 years old. Their joy of being reunited in America became greater when a baby sister, Angelina, was born in 1956.
Jelena was registered in school as Helen; she learned English without any special programs, just other students who became life-long friends. She graduated from Omaha University (now UNO) in 1963. She joined the U.S. Army in 1963, serving her adopted country as a hospital dietitian in many locations, the last in Okinawa with the rank of Major.
Jelena and Bob Fritsch married in 1970 in Omaha. After the birth of son Jovan in Okinawa, Jelena retired from the Army; they continued to be an Army family until Bob’s retirement. They loved learning about the countries where they were stationed. Although they had lived in many places around the world, they returned to Aurora, Colorado for their home in retirement. She always carried on the traditions of her Serbian heritage and was the historian of our family. She loved cooking and baking foods from around the world; folk dancing and folk costumes; and writing letters to family and friends.
Wherever they were stationed, Jelena attended the nearest Eastern Orthodox Church whether it was Serbian, Greek, Orthodox Church of America or many others. Jelena’s faith was strong and she loved God and other people with all her heart.
In Aurora, Jelena found her true calling. When she immigrated to America, many people helped the family in ways that we who remain don’t even know. Her mission was to return that kindness to others. She worked with a Lutheran refugee agency in Denver, helping refugees from the Yugoslavia war of the early 1990s to resettle in the Denver area. She then worked for the ACC (African Community Center) helping refugees from war-torn Africa. Her attention to detail for each family was the same as for her own family. Her love for people was evident to all. Jelena was generous, caring, and loved to talk. She never met a stranger and always had room for ‘one more’. The shared memories and love of Jelena’s family and friends will continue to honor her legacy.
Jelena is preceded in death by her parents, brother Monte, and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Yugoslavia.
Jelena is survived by her beloved husband Robert, son Jovan, grandchildren Sarah, Jackson, and Carson; sister Angelina (George) Pryich; sister-in-law Karen Shuput, nephew Allen (Kristina and son Colton), and niece Connie (Sacha and children Zach, Ayva, and Hattie); cousins Predrag (Judy) Kopun and their children, Tatjana (John) Sutej, and many friends throughout the world.
Funeral Service was at St Catherine Greek Orthodox Church on December 7, 2023, Followed by a graveside service at Chapel Hill Mortuary in Centennial CO. In lieu of flowers please feel free to donate to St Catherine Greek Orthodox Church. Donate — St Catherine Church.
Additional information about Orthodox Funerals can be found here: Greek Orthodox Funeral Traditions | Horan & McConaty | Denver CO (horancares.com)