Fanika, a survivor of two wars and the Holocaust, passed away peacefully on April 24th, 2021, in Toronto, Ontario. Beloved mother of Branka Jovicic and Dragan Lucic; grandmother of Aleksandra, Slobodan, Slaven and Drazen, great grandmother of four. Fanika lived an extraordinary life, full of struggle and hard-won happiness.
Fanika was born as Hana Altarac to a Sephardic Jewish family in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, where she lived happily until WWII. She was sixteen when Ustashas (Croatian Nazis) took away her parents, siblings, and numerous relatives, thirty-five persons in all, to a concentration camp in Djakovo, Croatia, where they perished. She changed her name to Fanika to avoid arrest, and spent a good part of the war hiding at her school friend’s shed. Towards the end of the war, she joined Tito’s Partisans in the liberation effort against the Fascist occupiers. She was the sole surviving member of her family of WWII. The family which hid her during the war was later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
After the war, she started working in a tobacco production company, where she was recognized as an exceptional employee. There she met a young accountant, Lazar Lucic, who would become the love of her life. They married and had two children. They lived happily together until 1949 when Lazar died from pneumonia due to lack of access to medication. Fanika endured this tragedy with little to no support during the difficult post-war period. She raised her children alone, and saw them graduate universities and start families of their own. She worked forty years until retirement, never taking one sick day.
During the 1990’s Bosnian civil war, Fanika remained in Sarajevo, which was under siege, with her son, daughter-in-law, and their two sons, for three years. She stayed in the city until her son and his family found a safe way out. She was the last one to flee the city and found her way out through an underground tunnel.
For the past 24 years, Fanika lived in Toronto where she enjoyed attending theatre, concerts, and festivals. She loved to travel and spent many summers in Montenegro where her love of people, life, and music reenergized her life. She made a lot of friends because people were drawn to her strength, warmth and caring heart. She lived modestly, enjoyed spending time with her children, their families, and her many friends.
Her warmth, her smile and her zest for life will be missed by many.
The funeral will be held at York Cemetery - Beecroft St on May 7, 2021. Due to the pandemic restrictions, the funeral will be a closed family event.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the following charities in memory of Fanika:
https://jewishtoronto.com/donate - UJA Toronto: supports the Jewish community in Sarajevo and Jewish immigrants to Toronto.
https://28jun.org/donate - 28jun: assists underprivileged Serbian communities in the Balkans.