I first met Ned Blitvich in the tiny town of Ston, Croatia in October 2008. (Seen here, Ned atop the 14th century wall fortifications in Ston.) Ned, who spent half his year in Croatia and half at home with his wife in Temecula, CA, passed away last week, rather unexpectedly. He was the father of one of our stateside friends & we were lucky enough to spend a day with him in his hometown in Croatia last fall. He was incredibly friendly, generous to a fault, quick with an Old World wit, and one of the kindest souls I’ve ever had the honor of coming across. We spent an afternoon hiking the walls of Ston, drinking his powerful homebrewed wine, and gorging ourselves on his homegrown figs, which remain the best I’ve ever tasted. When we were soaked in wine & cutting things close in catching our bus back to Dubrovnik that afternoon, Ned drove us at breakneck speed down his winding, seaside road to the “highway” where the bus would stop. “Oh, Jesus! Oh, Jesus! You gonna jump out, okay?!”, he said as he skidded to a stop in the roadside gravel. I jumped out, flagged the bus, & made it in time, all due to Ned’s superior pickup truck-driving skills. Just one of those days in life that you will never forget, you know?
To say that he will simply be missed would be a grave understatement.