[ARCHIVED NEWS] Tuesday, December 21, 2004

KUM +STEVO [1932 - 2004]
By Luka Krneta

When talking about Stevo Milos Klipa, the number of words to describe the man can only be rivaled by the number of lives that he touched in his 72 years.

Whether it was a faithful member of St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Monroeville, an influential teacher and football coach, or as someone whose mere presence emitted: "Hey, I'm there if ya need me," everyone knew they had a spiritual, caring and unassuming individual they could call upon at any time.
Truth is, I knew of Mr. Klipa for quite a few years before my wife and I were blessed to know him as Kum Stevo.

Yet, in that short time as kumovi, we count our blessings, for he made a profound impact in our lives. My regret is that I never told him as much, for I knew his humility would not allow him to acknowledge such a fact. Our solace is nothing that had to be said between us for Kum to know it.

About 10 years ago, prior to our marriage, my future wife, her kids and I were invited to Stevo and Georgeann Klipa's home to help celebrate their St. George Slava. It was a slava that we will never forget.

"As we sat in the dining room table, Kum Stevo, the consummate teacher presented a mathematical problem to my kids (Leah and Brad)," my wife, Melanie, recalled. "The kids thought about it, and Leah came up with the answer in her head relatively quick, as Brad kept writing out the answer." Kum wasj just so surprised that Leah came up with it so fast, though, in her head. He started talking about their intelligence. Being the individual that he was - sincere and forthright - made me feel so good. Various school personnel had previously told me of the kids' intelligence and their potential.

"But coming from Kum, a teacher who was speaking from his heart and not because it was his job, made all the difference in the world to me and my children. My only regret is that my kids never had Kum as a teacher."

Although geographical distance kept our contact with Kum limited in the years that followed our marriage, he always was among the first people I would seek out when I returned for a Serbian function in the Monogahela Valley.

The last time I saw Kum was during the annual Shadeland camp picnic in August. I was so happy to see him that I dropped out of a kolo in which I was dancing just to talk to a man with whom I loved conversing. I asked him to tell me that old coach Pete Dimperio story, that I loved hearing him tell over and over and over. As usual, he didn't let me down.

Most important about Kum and Kuma Georgeann is the spiritual influence they had on their children. It is a testament to what faith in God is all about. But, working as God's ambassadors went beyond family ties.

A few years back, a couple that we knew made a decision to convert to Orthodoxy and asked Melanie and I to be their kumovi. At the time, my future Kum, who now is studying to enter the priesthood, spoke of various reasons behind the decision he and his wife had made. The determing factor, he told me, were conversations about Orthodoxy he had with Stevo and his son, Djuro.

He had told me that Stevo and Djuro's spirituality and sincerity when speaking about the faith was the epitome of what he and his wife had been seeking.

Although I can't speak for everyone when it comes down to Kum, I can say that the Orthodox faithful, Serbians and all people who knew the man known as Stevo Milos Klipa have been blessed.
Thank you Kum for being the man that you were.

Vecnaja Pamjat.