Some patrons may have the good fortune to have known Gordana and Milan Racic who were stalwart Next Act supporters for more than 15 years. Gordana served on the Next Act Board, and with Milan sponsored many NAT productions and the Next Actors teen program over the years. The two of them were rarely separated. At Board meetings, Milan would read quietly in a corner while we conducted business. And then afterward, he would either tease me with some twinkling conceit or tell me about the book he was reading: almost always historical biography. Milan would also take pleasure in mischievous heckling from his front row, Section 2 seat as I began the pre-show speech.
Sadly, Gordana passed away somewhat suddenly, three years ago this May. It was a very difficult time for Milan, without his life’s companion of 61 years. He struggled to maintain purpose without her and found some solace in their longtime relationship with the Milwaukee County Zoo. His favorite project was bringing a second snow leopard to be a mate to the one already in residence. It took a good while for the cats’ relationship to develop, but Milan finally got his wish fulfilled last May as a snow leopard kitten was born.
After nearly three years of solitary existence, Milan slipped away in February. I can only believe that his passing finally brought him the relief he had been seeking since losing his dearest friend.
The two of them were extraordinary people, each in their own right and also as a team. They both started life in Yugoslavia, met and married there, and while under communist rule, plotted their escape from behind the Iron Curtain. They were patient; first Milan hiked over the mountains to Austria with some companions and then made his way to the States. About a year later, Gordana (under the guise of going to retrieve her errant husband) arrived in the US, was re-united with Milan, and never looked back.
Their legacy of Next Act patronage has continued all these years with gifts in support of the hearing loop system, annual sponsorships and a very generous bequest. We share sadness with friends and family for their loss, and remain most grateful for their dedication to many philanthropic causes, including Next Act.
Rest in partnership; rest in peace, Gordana and Milan.