Obituary: Daniel 'Dragan' Martich / Owner of friendly neighborhood Duquesne bar
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Daniel "Dragan" Martich, who ran a family-friendly bar in Duquesne for three decades, died Wednesday at 85.
He was born in Midland to Serbian immigrants. When his mother became ill, she sent him and his two siblings to her hometown in eastern Croatia. He lived there for years before she recovered and they were able to return before the outbreak of World War II, said his daughter, Dawna Martich of Pleasant Hills.
Back in Midland he worked in a steel mill, then served as a military policeman in the Army during the Korean War. After the Army, he worked in his uncle's bar in Lancaster County and started looking for a wife.
"Men of Serbian background used to drive everywhere to meet Serbian women. He came to the Duquesne Serbian Club and met my mom," Ms. Martich said.
They married in 1953 and settled in Duquesne, Julia Medich Martich's hometown. He juggled jobs, including purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables at 4 a.m. in the Strip District and selling them from a truck in Duquesne. He used the proceeds to buy Danny's Cafe on Kennedy Avenue.
"It started out with a pool table but became a family-oriented bar with a short-order cook and all kinds of bar food," she said. His wife and both daughters worked there over the years.
"He ran the cleanest bar in the city," said Bernard "B.G." Rossner, a customer who became a close friend and hunting companion.
"If you had dirty shoes, you weren't going to get in the place," he said. "If it rained, he put papers down on the floor so it didn't get dirty."
Once when a high school basketball coach spit tobacco on the floor, Mr. Martich ejected him, he said.
Her father built a house nearby that allowed him to see the bar from his back steps, Ms. Martich said. When his daughters were young, he worked noon to 6 and 9 to closing each day, coming home for three hours of rest and dinner. He was also an avid cook who did the family food shopping.
"He taught me and my sister how to shop for groceries, how to pick out a cut of meat," she said.
He brought home plenty of meat from a hunting camp in Potter County, cooking the venison and making purses for his girls and a jacket for himself from the pelts.
His Orthodox faith was strong. He had been an officer of several parishes. He twice visited what was then Yugoslavia. One of the trips, in 1972, was for the reconsecration of a monastery that had been closed since World War II, she said.
He also was active in the Masons.
In 1985, he sold Danny's Cafe and began to travel more with his wife. He lavished care on his garden, growing tomatoes, zucchini and garlic.
"The flowers in front of the house were his pride and joy," Ms. Martich said. "Marigolds, chrysanthemums and petunias were his favorites."
He is survived by his wife, Julia; another daughter, Joan Martich of Orlando, Fla.; two brothers, George of Weirton and Milan of Northridge, Calif.; and two grandchildren.
There will be visitation at 9 this morning in Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, Whitehall, where the funeral will be at 10 a.m. Interment will be in Jefferson Memorial Park.
Gifts may be made to Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 450 Maxwell Drive, Pittsburgh 15236.
First Published September 3, 2011 12:00 am