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911 Englewood Avenue
BUFFALO, NY 14223
Phone: (716) 836-2935
Fax: (716) 836-2936
Jakob Planinsek

Jakob A. Planinsek

Monday, July 25th, 1921 - Sunday, June 30th, 2019
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Obituary

Planinsek, Jakob A. - June 30, 2019 - Beloved husband of Janet A. (nee Stevens) Planinsek and the late Helena (nee Kerc) Planinsek. Devoted father of Helen M. (Kevin) Brady, John J. (Tracy) Planinsek and Tina A. (Les) Daucher. Loving grandfather of Alexander Brady, Katherine (Luke) Auge, Dr. Daniel Brady, Monica Planinsek, Jakob Daucher, Gracie Daucher and James Planinsek. Dear brother of Marija (Joze) Retelj and pre deceased by brothers and sisters. Also survived by many nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends at the C. Mertz And Son Funeral Home, Inc. 911 Englewood Ave. Tuesday, July 2nd from 4-8 PM, where funeral services will be held Wednesday, July 3rd at 9:00 AM and a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. John the Baptist Church 1085 Englewood Ave. at 9:30 AM. In lieu of flowers donations, may be made in Jakob's memory to Journey's End Refugee Services 2495 Main St. Buffalo, NY 14214 (jersbuffallo.org). Please share condolences at mertzfh.com


July 25, 1921 – June 30, 2019
Jakob Anton Planinsek survived World War II despite the loss of his father and two brothers, the Communist takeover of his homeland and an incident that nearly cost him his life.
“His life had all the elements of a fairy tale,” said one of his grandsons, Alex Brady. “He grew up working in a vineyard, surviving the debilitating effects of three different dictators and an errant land mine, left for a new homeland with little more than clothes on his back, self-taught himself English with flashcards ...”
Mr. Planinsek went on to become a highly respected cancer researcher at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. He died Sunday in DeGraff Skilled Nursing Facility, North Tonawanda. He was 97.
Born in the village of Dolenje Kamence in Novo Mesto in southeastern Slovenia, he was among a group of outspoken anti-fascist students at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia who were picked up and taken by cattle car to a concentration camp in Trieste, Italy.
Released after a year, he joined his father and brothers in the resistance, opposing Communists under Marshal Tito. His father and two of his three brothers were killed in the fighting. Mr. Planinsek stepped on a land mine, lost his right leg and was not expected to live.
After numerous surgeries in Celje Hospital in Slovenia, he was sent to a refugee camp in Graz, Austria. There he met and fell in love with a young woman from Ljubljana, Helena Kerc, who had been jailed for speaking out against the Communists.
While a refugee, Mr. Planinsek attended the medical school at Kaiser Franz-Joseph University in Graz, leaving before graduation in 1949 to accept a World Student Scholarship offered him by Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.
Leaving Helena behind in the refugee camp, he sailed to America on a Liberty ship and taught himself English with flashcards in his dorm room at Allegheny College. He graduated in two years with a bachelor’s degree in biology.
Hoping to bring Helena to join him, he paid a farmer $500 to smuggle her across the Italian border to Trieste, where she was jailed as an illegal immigrant. When she was released, she went to Rome, finding work as a bookkeeper and living with the Sisters of St. Francis near the Vatican.
Meanwhile, Mr. Planinsek studied for a master’s degree in biology at New York University and worked as a cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.
When he returned to Europe in 1953, he finally was reunited with Helena. They were married at the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Peter’s Basilica. A year later, they moved to Buffalo.
Mr. Planinsek had a 33-year career at Roswell Park, first as a cancer research scientist, then as a senior cancer research scientist in cellular immunology. Known to all as Jake, he was a collaborator and co-author for more than two dozen scientific articles, primarily in the Journal of Immunology and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. He retired in 1987.
A Town of Tonawanda resident since 1957, he was a longtime parishioner at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
An avid vegetable gardener, he spent many summers and weekends at his second home on a 60-acre property in South Wales, which included a stocked two-acre pond.
He returned to Slovenia many times and traveled elsewhere throughout Europe.
His wife died in 1983.
Survivors include his second wife of 31 years, the former Janet A. Stevens; two daughters, Helen M. Brady and Tina A. Daucher; a son, John J.; a sister, Marija Retelj; and seven grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in St. John the Baptist Church, 1085 Englewood Ave., Town of Tonawanda.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 | 4:00pm - 8:00pm
    When
    Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 4:00pm - 8:00pm
    Location
    C. Mertz and Son Funeral Home, Inc.
    Address
    911 Englewood Ave.
    Buffalo, NY 14223
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019 | 9:30am
    When
    Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019 9:30am
    Location
    St. John the Baptist Church
    Address
    1085 Englewood Ave.
    Buffalo, NY 14223
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Location
    Mount Olivet Cemetery
    Address
    4000 Elmwood Ave.
    Tonawanda, NY 14223
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email

Donations

Donations are being accepted for: JOURNEYS END REFUGEE SERVICES.

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MR

Matjaz Retelj

Posted at 01:38am
I am deeply saddened to learn of Jakob's passing. Jakob was my grandmother Marija's brother which made me his great-nephew. For my whole life, great distances separated Jakob from his family in his homeland, nevertheless I had the feeling that he was close to us from an early age. He was Marija's only brother to have survived World War II. She frequently speaks of him and each time one can notice in her eyes the strong connection they had and the feeling of sadness for being far apart. She appreciated every letter she received from him and was very excited about every visit from him.

But Jakob made a big impact on my life too. It was a long time ago when I was 13. Jakob invited Marija for a visit and I was allowed to tag along. Back then I learned English in school as a second language for 3 years but never thought about it much more than a school subject. During the one-month-long adventure with Jakob, I discovered that conversing in English was fun for me and I found a passion for the language. During the visit, Jakob would also discuss various scientific topics with me. Today, I work as a scientist and translator and I would like to think that Jakob was one of the people that spurred me in that career direction. I am deeply thankful to him for that.

May God bless Jakob and may he rest in eternal peace.

My condolences go out to the rest of Jakob's family. May fond memories of Jakob bring you comfort during this hard time in your life.
MR

Matjaz Retelj

Posted at 01:38am
I am deeply saddened to learn of Jakob's passing. Jakob was my grandmother Marija's brother which made me his great-nephew. For my whole life, great distances separated Jakob from his family in his homeland, nevertheless I had the feeling that he was close to us from an early age. He was Marija's only brother to have survived World War II. She frequently speaks of him and each time one can notice in her eyes the strong connection they had and the feeling of sadness for being far apart. She appreciated every letter she received from him and was very excited about every visit from him.

But Jakob made a big impact on my life too. It was a long time ago when I was 13. Jakob invited Marija for a visit and I was allowed to tag along. Back then I learned English in school as a second language for 3 years but never thought about it much more than a school subject. During the one-month-long adventure with Jakob, I discovered that conversing in English was fun for me and I found a passion for the language. During the visit, Jakob would also discuss various scientific topics with me. Today, I work as a scientist and translator and I would like to think that Jakob was one of the people that spurred me in that career direction. I am deeply thankful to him for that.

May God bless Jakob and may he rest in eternal peace.

My condolences go out to the rest of Jakob's family. May fond memories of Jakob bring you comfort during this hard time in your life.
MR

Matjaz Retelj

Posted at 01:38am
I am deeply saddened to learn of Jakob's passing. Jakob was my grandmother Marija's brother which made me his great-nephew. For my whole life, great distances separated Jakob from his family in his homeland, nevertheless I had the feeling that he was close to us from an early age. He was Marija's only brother to have survived World War II. She frequently speaks of him and each time one can notice in her eyes the strong connection they had and the feeling of sadness for being far apart. She appreciated every letter she received from him and was very excited about every visit from him.

But Jakob made a big impact on my life too. It was a long time ago when I was 13. Jakob invited Marija for a visit and I was allowed to tag along. Back then I learned English in school as a second language for 3 years but never thought about it much more than a school subject. During the one-month-long adventure with Jakob, I discovered that conversing in English was fun for me and I found a passion for the language. During the visit, Jakob would also discuss various scientific topics with me. Today, I work as a scientist and translator and I would like to think that Jakob was one of the people that spurred me in that career direction. I am deeply thankful to him for that.

May God bless Jakob and may he rest in eternal peace.

My condolences go out to the rest of Jakob's family. May fond memories of Jakob bring you comfort during this hard time in your life.
HS

Heartfelt Sympathies Store

Posted at 01:54am
Stric Bine, rest in Peace! Cvetka, Mara, Tajda, Dino and Miro
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Juanita

Posted at 06:47pm
Please accept my most sincere sympathy for the death of your loved one,  . We can find comfort in the word of God because it assures us that "there is going to be a resurrection" (Acts 24:15).  God promises to give life back to millions of people who have died, and he desires to do so very soon.

 
We know this from what a servant of God from the past, Job, asked God: “If a man dies, can he live again?  I will wait all the days of my compulsory service (death) until my relief comes.   You (Jehovah) will call, and I (Job) will answer you. You will long for the work of your hands." (Job 14:14, 15) God is longing to give life back to those who have died.

 
Perhaps these words do not calm your pain but we are certain that God will resurrect all those who demonstrate faith in the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. Reflecting on the divine promises found in the Bible will give you the hope and strength to keep going until all of God’s promises are fulfilled.  May these words bring you and your family much comfort from Jehovah God, the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1: 3, 4).   
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