The world lost a gentle, noble soul Wednesday, September 12, 2012. Milan Nickola Zenovich, who went by the name Milo, was born September 18, 1914 in Globe, Arizona.
Milo's mother died shortly after his birth and Milo was sent to live with an aunt on the Adriatic Sea near Dobrovnik, Yugoslavia. Growing up in Yugoslavia, Milo learned to speak several different languages, including French, German, Italian, English, and Serbian. At age 14, Milo returned to Arizona where he and his brothers were employed building Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) on the Colorado River. Milo eventually became the manager of the Hoover Dam company store. Following completion of Hoover Dam, Milo worked in San Francisco for Henry J. Kaiser pending construction of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Colombia River. While working in San Francisco, one of Milo's favorite memories was of the racehorse, Sea Biscuit, which culminated in the epic race between Sea Biscuit and War Admiral. Milo bet his entire paycheck on Sea Biscuit and won.
In 1942, Milo was drafted into the Army where he served in Army intelligence in France and Germany. Milo participated in what is now known as the Battle of the Bulge (1944-1945). Following the war, Milo moved to Grants Pass, Oregon. Milo fell in love with Southern Oregon and began a new chapter in his incredible life. In 1947, Milo and a partner opened Grants Pass Sporting Goods. In 1956, Milo started Milo's Sporting Goods on 6th Street in Grants Pass. For nearly 30 years, Milo's Sporting Goods was the sporting headquarters in Southern Oregon. Over the years, Milo's Sporting Goods developed a large west coast clientele, including movie stars Ginger Rogers, Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, Gregory Peck, and others. On almost every morning of the week, local hunting and fishing guides, along with their drift boats and guests, lined up outside Milo's Sporting Goods to purchase the latest fishing tackle, guns, and sporting equipment.
In 1956, Milo fell in love with and married Dorothea Hanson, who preceded him in death. Milo ran the store and Dorothea managed the accounts using postcards in a shoe box. If a person's goodness is measured by good deeds, then Milo will have the brightest star in the universe. To this day, people still tell stories of how they were touched by Milo's big heart and boundless generosity. As an example, during the years Milo owned and operated his store, there were many of the local Grants Pass children who could not afford to participate in athletic programs because of the costs of the shorts, shirts, shoes, and necessary sporting equipment. The coaches at the local schools would provide Milo with a list, and by coincidence, Milo always had the children's correct clothing and shoe sizes in stock, which he anonymously donated. Every Christmas, Milo would have envelopes of cash delivered to numerous families in need in the community. As a result of his generosity, the City of Grants Pass proclaimed Milo Zenovich Day in Grants Pass and awarded Milo the keys to the city.
Milo and Dorothea loved to play golf and were members of the Grants Pass Golf Club. They also loved to travel and entertain friends and family. Milo was also a proud lifetime member of the Masonic Lodge in Grants Pass. After Dorothea passed away in 2006, Milo moved to Jacksonville, Oregon to be closer to family. Until recently, he enjoyed golfing with his friend, Owen Panner, and taking daily walks around Jacksonville where he made many new friends and had a kind word for everyone he met. Milo will be remembered as a person who looked for and always found the best in everyone. He always had something positive and encouraging to say and he made others feel better about themselves. Milo was a humble man who never put material possessions ahead of loving and caring for his family, friends, and community. Milo made us all want to be better people.
Milo and Dorothea never had children of their own, but they were blessed with an abundance of friends and relatives who always found an open door; a warm, heartfelt welcome; and a great meal. No child, regardless of ability to pay, ever left Milo's Sporting Goods without being given a secret weapon, which was usually the hottest fishing lure. Milo is survived by his numerous nieces and nephews: John Hanson, Mike LaNier, Nancy Panner, Mike Chuckovich, Carole Chuckovich, Lou Pejovich, Nick Zenovich, Mary Ash, Kim Erb, Kathy Evans, Brian Ripp, Jenny Beth Sturm, Bill Dundom, David Erb, Greg Holland, Mary Ann Bart, Paula Hinkle, Joan Mizner, and Ken Hanson.
A celebration of Milo's life will be held at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, September 22, 2012, at the home of John and Cindy Hanson, 1690 Arnold Lane, Medford, Oregon. Hull and Hull Mortuary, Grants Pass, Oregon is handling arrangements. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to Kids Unlimited.