Edmund J. Turk, prominent Slovenian American, dies

Cleveland, 6 October - Edmund John Turk, a co-founder and chairman of United Americans for Slovenia (UAS), a Cleveland-based group of Slovenian Americans that pushed for Slovenia's international recognition in the 1990s, has died at the age of 97.

Cleveland, US
Slovenian National Home in Cleveland.
Photo: Robi Poredos/STA
File photo

The news on the death of Turk, a lawyer, judge and one of the most respectful members of the Slovenian community in Cleveland and the US, was announced by Joe Valencic, the founder of Polka Hall of Fame in the US.

Born in Cleveland in 1925, Turk attended John Carroll University in Cleveland and Marshal Law school. He was one of the most successful lawyers of Slovenian descent.

He was elected Cleveland City Council member six times and served as a judge at the Cleveland Municipal Court. As the head of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission he was also a member of the governor's office.

At the founding meeting of the UAS in Cleveland on 1 July 1991 the leaders of Slovenian American organisations, parishes and cultural centres in the US unanimously elected him as the chair.

When the US recognised Slovenia as an independent country on 7 April 1992, Turk and other UAS members gathered in front of the headquarters of the American Mutual Life Association and raised the Slovenian and US flags.

Turk presided over a gala evening at the Slovenian National Home to celebrate Slovenia's recognition, on which occasion he presented Ohio Governor George Voinovich with a Slovenian flag that was later the first to fly in front of the Ohio State Government building.

Turk and the UAS then continued to work to promote Slovenia's accession to NATO. In August 1997, Turk led a UAS delegation to a White House briefing on Slovenia's admission to NATO, the first such official reception of a group of Slovenian Americans at the White House.

The UAS completed its work in 2006, finding it had completed its mission with Slovenia's independence being recognised and the country being admitted to NATO.

© STA, 2022