Mihailo (Michael) V. Dobrich, age 87, of Merrillville passed away October 28, 2023. Mihailo was born July 28,1936 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia to the late Velibor M. Dobrich, a former Yugoslav Royal Army Colonel and late Darinka (Kocic) Dobrich, a former schoolteacher. He was preceded in death by Sister Danica and Brother-in-Law Aleksandar Trifunovic.
Mihailo met Ljiljana Tesovic in 1974 while she was visiting family. They were married on November 23, 1978 at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Hobart, IN. He was a loving husband to Ljiljana and doting father to his Pilence, Doris. His family was his world and he would do everything for them.
Mihailo had many talents in his lifetime. In addition to English and Serbian, he was fluent in French and Russian. Early on in Belgrade, he was a professional cyclist for Beogradski Sportski Klub. He was also a talented artist and was the youngest Cartoonist at 18 years of age to illustrate for the Yugoslav Satire Magazine, JEZ.
In 1956, he left Yugoslavia for Austria, and then Paris, France for 1 year before coming to Gary, Indiana to reunite with his father after 18 years apart. His mother and sister rejoined the family soon after.
Mihailo worked as a Commercial Artist at U.S. Steel in Gary from 1957-1971, and was a member of the Glee Club. He received his B.S. in Education in 1971 and M.S. in education in 1973 from Indiana University Northwest. He spent his summers at Aix en Provence, France from 1974 – 1978 and received his second Master’s in French Literature.
Mr. Dobrich was a beloved fifth grade teacher at Bailey Elementary in Lake Station, IN from 1971-1974. He then moved to Edison Sr. High School in Lake Station as the French Teacher for 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. He was affectionately known as DOB and DOBI by his students. His humor and wit in addition to his artistic posters invited his students into the French culture and language. The H.S. students took French just to be in Mr. Dobrich’s class. He was the sponsor of French Club, and was an illustrator of “Eagle Feathers”, the High School newspaper. He retired in 1999 but he continued his love of education in retirement and became a Substitute Teacher in the Merrillville Schools, this time affectionately known as Mr. Sub.
In addition to his Teaching career, Mihailo taught cartooning and French at Kid’s College at Indiana University Northwest. He was a member of PHI DELTA KAPPA, the association of professional educators and served as President. And like many teachers, he had his side business, Dobrich Signs. He did freestyle sign painting all over N.W. Indiana and Chicago area. He lettered trucks, cars, walls, boards, and posters with his steady, delicate hand. In an age where digital art became popular, he continued his artistic trade that was valued by his clients.
Mihailo was a faithful member of St. Sava Church. He served on the Executive Board for many years as the Serbian Secretary, and he was Chairman of Serbian Day in July. But, most people would remember the hundreds of business posters ads he created for the Annual Golf Tournament and Serb Fest. His huge Serb Fest Signs were visible all over Northwest Indiana. Mihailo was a member of SNF Lodge #16 “Kralj Petar.”
Mihailo is survived by his loving wife, Ljiljana, Daughter Doris (Alan) Manojlovic, cherished grandchildren, Olivera and Nikola. He leaves behind niece Ariane Montemurro and family of TN, nephew Robert Trifunovic M.D and family of CA, cousin Branimir Dobric and family of Belgrade, Serbia, and many friends, family, and kumovi in the USA and abroad.
The loss of Mihailo leaves a huge hole in our hearts and he is missed beyond words can describe. He was one of a kind, with his humor, heart, and personality. And if you met him, you never forgot him.Visitation for dear Mihailo WAS Friday, November 3, 2023 at 10am at St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, 9191 Mississippi St, Merrillville, IN with Funeral Service beginning at 11am. V Rev Marko Matic officiated. Interment Holy Cross (St Sava) Cemetery Merrillville, IN. Donations can be made to St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church or its Karageorge Choir. Vecnaja Pamjat.