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Trafford centenarian was driver to rich and famous

Joe Napsha
670195MilanDrakulic
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Milan “Jemo” Drakulic Sr. of Trafford died Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, at UPMC McKeesport hospital.

Milan “Jemo” Drakulic Sr. of Trafford got to drive famous people as the head chauffeur for the former Westinghouse Electric Corp. when its headquarters were in downtown Pittsburgh.

“He was the youngest of about six chauffeurs for Westinghouse and then became its head chauffeur around 1965,” said his daughter, Maryanne Miholovich. He was the only Westinghouse chauffeur to have a retirement party, where he was given a watch to keep time.

“He never used one (watch) when he was on the job,” Miholovich said. “He was always on time without it.”

Mr. Drakulic drove Walt Disney from what would later be known as Pittsburgh International Airport into the Westinghouse headquarters in the 1960s when Disney asked the company about building a monorail at the giant theme park he was planning in Florida, Miholovich said. Westinghouse had built an experimental monorail at the Allegheny County Fairgrounds in South Park.

Drakulic was at the steering wheel when Nelson Rockefeller, President Ford’s vice president, came to Pittsburgh to see Westinghouse officials around 1975. Secret Service personnel were in the car with her father, Miholovich recalled.

Such was his love of driving that Mr. Drakulic remained behind the wheel, making local trips last summer at age 100. He reluctantly stopped driving his car last year but still was in possession of his driver’s license when he died Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, at UPMC McKeesport hospital, Miholovich said. He was 101.

Mr. Drakulic was born Oct. 1, 1917, in Wall, a son of the late Djuro “George” and Senija “Anna” (Tarbuk) Drakulic, who were Serbian immigrants.

Mr. Drakulic dropped out of Trafford High School during the Great Depression of the 1930s and went to work to help his family. He worked at a brick-making plant near Trafford and for Westinghouse Electric at its Trafford plant and its giant East Pittsburgh plant.

He was a truck driver at the East Pittsburgh plant when he bid on a job to wash the company’s limousines. He later became a chauffeur, replete with uniform and hat. It was a job he kept the rest of his career, not retiring until the late 1970s.

After retirement, he continued to drive for Westinghouse, taking company officials to shoot pheasants at the Westinghouse Shoots at the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township.

He was a lifelong member of St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Monroeville and an original member of the Tesla Memorial Society. He sang first tenor in three choirs — St. Nicholas Church Choir, Czar Lazar Male Choir and St. Nicholas Male Chorus.

Mr. Drakulic was proud of his Serbian heritage and was president of the SNF Young American Serbs Lodge No. 82 of Trafford for 25 years.

In addition to working at Westinghouse, he sold livestock at his Westmoreland Auction Barn near Norvelt in the 1960s and started roasting lambs and pigs for sale.

While many senior citizens are at a loss for replacing friends who die, Miholovich said her father, simply “made new friends,” some decades younger than himself.

The family celebrated his 100th birthday at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church, Miholovich said.

“He did a lot in his 101 years,” she said.

Mr. Drakulic is survived by two children, Milan Drakulic Jr. and his wife, Helen, of North Versailles, and Maryanne Miholovich and her husband, Louis, of North Huntingdon; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Catherine Drakulic, and his second wife, Patricia Ann Cline-Drakulic.

A funeral service was held Friday in St. Nicholas Serbian Church, Haymaker Road, Monroeville. Interment followed in Grandview Cemetery, North Versailles.

John M. Dobrinick Funeral Home Inc. of Trafford was in charge of arrangements.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or
[email protected]