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Dr. Josip Terebuh

March 21, 1931 ~ May 24, 2019 (age 88)

Dr. Josip Terebuh, 88, of Bellefontaine, passed away at 7:43 a.m. Friday, May 24, 2019, at his residence.

He was born on March 22, 1931 on a subsistence farm in the village of Varoš, Croatia that, at that time, was part of the former Yugoslavia, attending grades 1 through 4 in the local one-room schoolhouse.  As the star pupil, he left his village at the age of 10 to attend the premier school in the Balkans, the Prva Klasična Gimnazija (First Classical High School) in the capital city of Zagreb while boarding at the neighboring Salesian Fathers Catholic Convent.  His proud and supportive parents would walk the 50 miles round trip to the city, selling chickens and other farm goods along the way to make enough money to support his education.  Despite hardships and bombings imposed by WWII, he excelled in school and began his medical studies at the University of Zagreb. In 1952, he made the difficult decision to leave his beloved family and homeland to pursue freedom from Tito’s communist regime of Yugoslavia by escaping to Vienna, Austria with nothing more than the clothes on his back.

In Austria and Germany, he labored in steel mills and paper mills, and mopped floors until receiving a scholarship to further his medical studies at the University of Heidelberg.  Four years later, he had the great fortune to be granted entry into the United States as part of President Eisenhower’s resettlement of 200,000 refugees from Eastern European countries under threat of communist regimes and the Soviet Union.  In 1956, he began work at the Roswell Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY.  Impressed by his diligence, his mentor encouraged him to complete his medical degree from 1957-59 on full scholarship at Rijksuniversiteit in Groningen, the Netherlands where he met his future wife, Tonia Eva Steenbergen, a student of medical technology.  They were married on October 7, 1960 in her hometown of Leeuwarden, the Netherlands and then set sail for Buffalo.  Having completed an internship in pathology at Meyer Memorial Hospital, followed by residency training in ophthalmology at Deaconess Hospital in Buffalo, he conducted an extensive search that led him and Tonia to choose Logan County for their home and medical practice where the rolling hills, farms, and climate reminded him of his childhood home.

In August 1964, Dr. Terebuh established his solo ophthalmology practice in an apartment at the Colonial Arms Apartments on Columbus Avenue.  In addition to performing eye surgery at Mary Rutan Hospital, he provided care for patients with medical emergencies on a rotating basis with the 10 other local physicians in a system that predated a formal Emergency Department. In 1970, his practice moved to its current location, 1107 Rush Avenue, while the need for eye care in the surrounding communities led him to open satellite offices in Kenton, Sydney and Urbana.  A new hand joined him at the helm in 1998 when his daughter, Dr. Annette Terebuh, returned home to Bellefontaine.  Dr. Josip Terebuh remained involved in the care of their patients into the last year of his life.  He was the longest serving physician on the staff of Mary Rutan Hospital, practicing in the community for 55 years, and was a member of American Academy of Ophthalmology.

While Dr. Terebuh could safely be described as a workaholic, he also cultivated hobbies that included tennis, motorcycle riding, flying small aircraft, collecting books on personal development, integrative medicine, and a delight in food for its enjoyment and its potential for health promotion.  He found his greatest joy, however, in a joke, good conversation, and his family.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Tonia of Bellefontaine; four children, Dr. Annette (Dr. Kevin Schlessel) Terebuh of Dublin, Dr. Boris (Jenifer) Terebuh of Dublin, Dr. Pauline (Dr. Jeff Ustin) Terebuh of Shaker Heights, and Dr. Victor (Renee) Terebuh of Granville; 12 grandchildren, Maya, Benjamin, Luke, Ella, Niko, Alexander, Noble, Titus, Anya, Roman, Nathaniel, and Tatiana; a sister, Steficia Bedekovic of Varoš, Croatia; nephew, Dr. Vladimir (Dr. Marina Roja) Bedeković of Zagreb, Croatia; great nephews, Boris (Ana), Vid, Lovro; and great-great nephews, Borna and Toma. 

Dr. Terebuh was a devout Roman Catholic and member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Parish in Bellefontaine.  He was profoundly grateful to have been embraced by the local community and to have had the opportunity to serve it over many decades.  In his journey through life, he felt truly blessed; his refrain to his beloved family was: “I am the luckiest person in the world.” 

Father Shawn Landenwitch will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 A.M. Friday, May 31, 2019 at the St. Patrick Catholic Church in Bellefontaine.  

A Celebration of Life visiting hours will be held Thursday, May 30, 2019 from 5 to 8 P.M. at the Eichholtz Daring & Sanford Funeral Home & Cremation Center in Bellefontaine.

The arrangements are in the care of the staff of the Eichholtz Daring & Sanford Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Bellefontaine.

(authored by the family)




Donations may be made to:

St. Vincent De Paul- Bellefontaine
316 E. Patterson Ave., Bellefontaine OH 43311

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