Photography

Mike Momčilo Vuchenich

October 4, 1944 ~ March 15, 2024 (age 79) 79 Years Old

Mike Momčilo Vuchenich Obituary

Mike Momčilo Vuchenich, resident of Dublin at the time of his passing, died peacefully in the early hours of March 15 after a multi-chaptered and historic life.

Momčilo was born in 1944 to Serbian parents Mirko Vučenić and Nedja (Torbica) Vučenić in the Lika province of former Yugoslavia. Due to the concurrent wars within Yugoslavia, his parents and extended family were forced to flee the country during World War II.  Momčilo was left to be raised by his 14 year old maternal uncle, Ljubomir (and later his wife, Dara), his maternal grandmother, and his great-grandmother, all of whom he loved dearly.

He finally joined his biological parents and surviving family for the first time when he immigrated to America at age 10 in May 1955. This would be the first time he met his biological parents, as well as his younger brothers, Milan and Nikola. The family had settled just outside of Pittsburgh, PA in the town of Steubenville, OH where they had found work in the booming steel industry among an enclave of fellow Serbs.

He worked hard to quickly learn English—including by watching Westerns on television—and soon became a model student. He was also an exceptional athlete across all sports, especially in his lifelong passion of soccer, though he was never permitted to play organized sports as a youth. This changed when he secretly walked on to the Ohio University's Men’s Division I Soccer Team in his freshman year. He’d go on to become a team leader, earning a varsity letter three times in his career (the most allowed by the NCAA at the time), as he worked towards his degree in Education, with emphasis on History and Social Studies.

After college, Mike moved back “home” and began his 35-year teaching career in Steubenville City Schools. It was here he met his future wife, Patricia Cipriani, a home economics teacher in the same public school system. They were married in 1978 and went on to have three sons, Mark, David, and Samuel Vuchenich. Mike was, first and foremost, a family man. Although stoic and physically tough, he was giving, sweet, and sensitive and he always put the needs of others above his own.

Mike never lost his love of soccer, and his prioritizing of lifelong physical fitness allowed him to play competitive soccer throughout his adult life well into his mid-70s. He was more than just a great player and fan of Pelé, the Columbus Crew, and Manchester United—he made it his life’s work to help spread access and give back to the game. He has long been recognized in the Ohio Valley as helping to champion the youth game especially, whether it was through the municipal kids’ leagues, for helping to build and coach the very first soccer program at the high school, or for being a long-standing high school and travel club referee. His work was instrumental in growing the sport in the region and beyond. This left a lasting memory among countless generations of friends, players, and families.

Mike and Patricia moved to the Columbus area (Dublin) in 2021 to be closer to their sons, Crew games in Nordecke, and some good fishing spots—a later-in-life passion and bond he shared with and learned from his son David. 

Mike Momčilo Vuchenich is survived by his wife, Patricia Marie Vuchenich (Cipriani); and his sons, Mark Vuchenich, David Vuchenich, and Samuel Vuchenich.  He will forever be remembered as a loving, generous soul, with a calming patience, pragmatism, and principled senses of justice and equality by all of his family, his lifelong friends, and all of his “adopted family” of sons’ friends, former soccer players and teammates, fellow referees, and former coworkers.

Mike will be honored by his family with a private celebration of his life for close family and friends at a later date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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