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Celebrating a life well-lived

Last Sunday’s gentle rain was so pleasing to me as I stayed snug in my little Spanish bungalow listening to lovely music and figuring out a new knitting pattern for a scarf I’m making of soft alpaca and silk yarn.

I love this kind of rainy day that is just slightly more than a mist — just strong enough that I can hear the pitter-pat of it on the window sill. Of course my dog Lola was snuggled right up against me, which made it even cozier. To add to the sensory delight of the day was the aroma of a pot-roast was simmering in the slow-cooker.

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On to news of the community. A very special celebration was held for Vera Prusak Svoboda on the occasion of her 90th birthday.

More than 80 people gathered at the home of her granddaughter and her husband, Michelle and Tim Sabourin, for this memorable occasion in which Vera was the shining star.

Highlights of the celebration included a video of her life and streaming video of the party through her grandson’s (Chris Macho) website “Knotpic.” There were many toasts and spoken tributes that honored this incredible woman and her adventuresome life.

Vera’s grandson Mark Smith, who attended the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa and trained at the Michelin star resort, Meadowwood in St. Helena, was the in charge of the menu and head chef for the party. For the special day he created a unique buffet menu that included a dramatic presentation of an 80-pound pig that he began roasting early in the day.

Vera was born and raised in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where she met and married her husband, Milo. When the Communists came into power, Vera and Milo knew that somehow they had to find a way to leave their homeland. Through a daring plan Vera, Milo and their 2-year-old daughter Eva made their escape to Europe in the middle of the night, leaving everything they owned behind in Prague.

After living in Switzerland and Austria for three years, they finally made their way to the United States in 1952 and settled in La Crescenta, moving to La Cañada in 1965.

Many of guests at Vera’s party were friends from the Czech Republic. Traveling the furthest to spend this day with Vera was her cousin Ina Klement from Zurich, Switzerland.

Family members celebrating with Vera were her daughters Ann Smith from Newport Beach, her daughter Eva and her husband Jan from La Cañada, grandchildren Michelle Sabourin, John Macho and his wife Lisa from LCF and Scott Smith from Cardiff by the Sea and Mark Smith with fiancée Christie Hoyle.

Vera’s life as an immigrant to the United States would truly make an exciting movie. She lives her life with great gusto and recently she went back to visit Prague and the place from where she made her escape to freedom. She loves to travel and laughs about the many modes of transportation she has taken. She has ridden hot-air balloons, dog sleds, elephants, camels, and even a Russian Aeroflot plane with folding chairs.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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