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GRDINA, ANTON

GRDINA, ANTON (27 Apr. 1874-1 Dec. 1957), businessman and leader in the Slovenian community, grew up in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, son of Luka and Marija Grdina. He arrived in Cleveland in 1897 and worked various jobs before buying a hardware store on St. Clair Ave. in 1904. He also sold furniture and became an undertaker, incorporating Anton Grdina & Sons, home furnishers and funeral directors, in 1928, and serving as its president until his death. Grdina helped organize 2 banking institutions for the Slovenian community: Slovenian Bldg. & Loan Assoc.(1916), which became St. Clair Savings Assoc.; and North American Bldg. & Savings Co.(1919-20), later NORTH AMERICAN BANK, of which Grdina was president from 1939 until his death.

Grdina helped rebuild that part of the St. Clair neighborhood destroyed by the EAST OHIO GAS CO. EXPLOSION & FIRE on 20 Oct. 1944, organizing St. Clair-Norwood Rehabilitation Corp. and giving $5,000 to the effort. The corporation bought sites of destroyed houses and built and sold 16 new homes. Grdina was also treasurer of the CLEVELAND CULTURAL GARDENS FED. from its founding in 1926 until 1957; president of the Yugoslav Cultural Garden; organized the Grand Carnolian Slovenian Catholic Union; was a founder of the Natl. Slovene Catholic Union; and held memberships in 16 Slovenian lodges. Grdina was the first U.S. Slovenian to receive the Third Order of the Yugoslav Crown, awarded by King Peter in 1938. In 1954 he became a knight in the Order of St. Gregory by papal decree. Grdina married Antoija Bizelj in 1899. They had 6 children: Anthony, Frank, Catherine, James, Mary, and Joseph. Grdina died in Cleveland and was buried in CALVARY CEMETERY.