I found an old newspaper article in the Gig Harbor Harbor History Museum Research Room regarding a midnight fire where the occupants both lost their lives. The article is undated, newspaper name cut off and I was unable to find their obituaries.
The couple, George Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Nikolac, had been residents of Gig Harbor for several years. Find-a-Grave records for them show: George M. Nikolac (December 30, 1897-September 11, 1972) and Mary E. Nikolac (July 8, 1905 - September 11, 1972)
This is the article:
“Mr. and Mrs. George M. Nikolac of North Gig Harbor lost their lives in a fire at midnight Saturday when flames gutted their home. They were found on the floor outside their bedroom where they apparently collapsed while attempting to escape.
“A neighbor, Gary Bunch, discovered the fire, but at that time the house was full of flame and he was unable to get in.
“Firemen arrived a few minutes later and had the fire under control within 15 minutes. They used air-packs to enter the heavy smoke and found the bodies.
“An officer from the state fire marshall’s office conducted an inspection of the house, and is of the opinion that the blaze was of electrical origin.
“Mr. Nikolac was born in Plina, Yugoslavia, and had lived in Gig Harbor for 45 years. He had been a commercial fisherman for over 20 years until his retirement two years ago. He was 74 years old. Mr. Nikolac was a charter member of the Port Orchard Eagles, the Moose Lodge of Friday Harbor, Knights of Columbus and the St. Nicholas Catholic Church.
Mrs. Nikolac, 67, was born in Majestic, Colo., and had also lived in Gig Harbor for 45 years. She was a member of the St. Nicholas Catholic Church, the Altar Society of St. Nicholas, the Legion of Mary and the Gig Harbor Eagles Auxiliary.
“They are survived by one son, Rudolph F., of Gig Harbor; four daughters, Mrs. Sydney (Evelyn P.) Rogers of Port Orchard, Mrs. Dwight (Leona) Anderson of Olalla, Mrs. Al (Frances M) Clark of Gig Harbor, and Mrs. Douglas (Mary L) Anderson of Oxnard, Calif., and 16 grandchildren.
“Besides their children, Mr. Nikolac is survived by a brother and sister in Yugoslavia.
Mrs. Nikolac is survived by five brothers, Julius Smirch of Olympia, Matt of Seattle, Tony and Rudolph of Gig Harbor, the Rev. John Smirch of Fullerton, Calif., a sister, Mrs. Antone (Katie) Karamatic of Gig Harbor.
“Requiem Mass for both Mr. and Mrs. Nikolac will be offered at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Nicholas Catholic Church under the direction of the Haven of Rest Mortuary. Rosary was recited at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the St. Nicholas Catholic Church. Family suggests memorials to the St. Nicholas Catholic Church Building Fund.
“Pallbearers for Mr. Nikolac will be Michael and Kenneth Rogers, Fred Nikolac, Larry and Gary Anderson and Kym Clark. Pallbearers for Mrs. Nikolac will be Richard Karamatic, Julius, The Rev. John, Tony, Matt and Richard Smircich, with honorary pallbearers to be Dale Bullard, Milton Roby and Peter Vale.”
George Immigrated on September 12, 1907, on a ship “Graf Waldersee” which set forth from Hamburg, Germany. George was naturalized by the Superior Court of Grays Harbor, Montesano County, WA on December 7, 1926 (8) [note: the date is shown as both 1926 and 1928 on genealogy.com] and his certificate of citizenship was issued on March 11, 1938.
More research needs to be conducted on this family, and i hope that this helps explains to all our readers why oral history biographies are so important.
If you know of someone, or you yourself, are interested in leaving an oral history of your family, please contact your local historical society or history museum and arrange to have a family history record made. It will help all future historians.
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