West Iron County Basketball 1984-85


I made a digital copy of an old (almost 31 years ago) VHS tape of my high school basketball team. I graduate from West Iron County High School, “the Wykons” in 1985. On the video tape were the following games:

  1. My dad filmed the fourth quarter of a regular season game against Iron Mountain high school in the Iron River Armory. We played our games there for years before a new gymnasium built in the new high school. It is appropriate that the new gym is named after our coach, Charles “Chuck” Greenland, who passed away a few years ago. This was the game featuring “the shot” which was my greatest moment in my high school basketball career. I made a last second shot to give us a 56-54 victory, giving the then #1 ranked team in the Class C Upper Peninsula of Michigan polls their first loss of the season. It was wonderful to hear my dad’s voice on the video. It was also great to see so many people at a high school basketball game. This was in the early 1980s before the internet and cable television was just starting, so people had more time to pay attention to high school sports.
  2. Next are the WLUC TV channel 6 news broadcasts of the game above and later in the season, we played Iron Mountain again in the first game of the district tournament. I enjoyed watching the sports segment on the 10:00 pm news program on the television station in Marquette, Michigan, the “capital city” of the Upper Peninsula. My sons were awestruck to see and hear me speak as a teenager and I won’t forget the look on their faces when they watched the video.
  3. Finally, there is the entire WLUC TV broadcast of the class C regional championship basketball game we played against Manistique high school. This was the unofficial Upper Peninsula championship game. We went on to the Michigan state finals, that season, finishing 24-4. I hope to find some more old VHS tapes that I can upload.

I want to thank my teammates, Dan Lewis, Brian Lewis, Jeff Shepich, Mike Nelson and “the scrubs”(Tom Anderson, Scott Bociek, Dave Puskala, Troy Brunelli, Matt Sherman, Kyle Erickson (RIP), Gary Sarafiny, Darren Bray, Bob Lindbeck, Ray Waite and coach Greenland. I have so many fond memories from our basketball team and the good times we had in high school.

Chavez Family History – Severiano Chavez

This was one of the last photos taken of Severiano Chavez, the great grandfather of my children on Nadia’s side of the family. It was taken around 1965 at the finca Brasilia near Warnes, Bolivia. Behind Severiano is my father-in-law, Hermes, who was around 25 years old at the time and his sister, Graciela (around 30 years old). Severiano died in April of 1968.

Hermes told me a couple stories that I wanted to save for the family history I am building on my blog. The first takes place in around 1909. Severiano at age 26, left the ranch to go to Argentina to buy mules. He returned with 90 mules and went to the Pando department (an Amazonian state north of Santa Cruz) and traded the mules for rubber. He put the rubber in a boat and sent it to Manaus, Brazil where he sold the rubber for 4,500 libras de Queen Victoria in gold. This whole adventure took almost a year and he returned in 1910.

On the estancia there lived about 20 families, all part of the Perez family. They had fled another estancia where the patron was mean. They were not slaves, being paid a wage, and they were free to come and go, but they were at the mercy of land owner. They are referred to as peones, peons, which is a Spanish American agricultural worker. Severiano treated them well and there was a total of around 80 people. He even built a school for the children and hired a teacher. My father-in-law remembers going to school with them.

Hermes told me when the Chaco War started, the population of the workers increased with people fleeing from being drafted in the war. Severiano gave refuge and work to them. During the war years, he became richer because of the increased workers and he sold rice and corn to the army. Severiano later had a sugar cane production mill and made molasses to sell and make aguardiente, a distilled alcoholic beverage. Severiano bought a 1935 chevrolet 3-ton truck.

I will try to get more stories from Hermes while I am here on holiday in Bolivia.


Pedro Pablo Chavez Bazan

This morning I asked my father-in-law, Hermes, what he remembered about his paternal grandparents. They are the maternal great, great, grandparents of my children.

The father of the father of Hermes was Pedro Pablo Chavez Balzan, who died around 1920 at age 60. (born approximately 1860). He was one of the original settlers of Santa Cruz. Hermes only remembers some of what his father told him about his grandfather because he died before Hermes was born. When Pedro Pablo Chavez arrived to the area, there were no owners of much of the land surrounding Santa Cruz so he went out and marked 2,000 hectares and made his claim with the provincial government. In those days, one went to the plaza in Montero (a nearby city) to find permanent workers (peones) to clear and work the land. 2,500 hectares is about 20 square kilometers which about 1/3 the size of Manhattan. That is a lot of land! All for free, which is amazing to think of today. Ah, to be the “first” European to get to a place. There are hardships that come with that, but those opportunities only come once in generations of families. The estancia was called La Redonda de Higerones (Around the Ficus Trees). 

He also had a house in the center of Santa Cruz. He had five children with two different women. Pedro Pablo is pictured above with Etelvina Justiniano de Chavez, the mother of Hermes’s father. (more on her in a later post)  For now, all they said was my wife Nadia has her eyes. Justiniano and Chavez are both common names today in Santa Cruz. I have not seen the Bazan surname, but it is of Spanish/Basque origin.

Their children are as follows:

Luis Chavez – He was a cattle trader who fell out with brother, when Pedro Pablo Chavez died, he sold part of his inheritance to a priest – the house downtown, which caused a rift between the brothers. 

Severiano Chavez – The great grandfather of my children and the father of Hermes. I previously blogged about him here, and I will be adding another blog post later  

Alicia – ended up blind and living in Brazil;

Bernardo Chavez– also a cattle trader;

Mariano Chavez– lived in the Beni; not sure what he did for a living or anything else about his life;

Finding Out Who I Am: A look into my DNA

The 23 and Me Testing Kit (Photo courtesy of James Hadfield)

Earlier this month I submitted a sample of saliva to the genomics and biotechnology company called 23 and Me. The company, founded by the wife of Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, allows individuals to get a portion of their genome decoded and they give some health and ancestral information. Only around 1 million of the 3 billion base pairs are read by the company and based on this, the report shows people their genetic predisposition to some diseases and other traits. I haven’t explored this part yet and will do in the coming weeks.

I was really interested in the ancestry part of their services. I am adopted and have found my biological mother and know a bit about my heritage, but it was really amazing to see in detail the percentages. It was also awesome to think about how humans came out of Africa and some of my DNA sequences are the same as the Neanderthals and the cavemen who painted those beautiful drawings in France.

Humanity is just in the beginning stages of understanding our genome and I hope I live long enough to see the advances in the field. It would be a great field to go into if I was younger. I am not sure how accurate the results are given that only a small portion of my DNA was decoded. The “speculative” read of my DNA was as follows:

Overall, I am 99.3 % European ancestry. The breakdown of this European DNA reads:

  • 38.6 % Eastern/Northern European
  • 19.1 % French/German
  • 12.7% Non-specific Northern European
  • 8.4% Balkan (yea Serbia!!!!)
  • 1.2% Iberian
  • 1.1% Italian
  • 7.9 % Non-specific Southern European
  • 9.6% Non-specific European

There are too many “non-specifics” for my liking and I am not sure how they arrived at this. Is it because they didn’t read enough of my DNA? Could it be that because Europeans interbred so often, that to distinguish between countries, or groups is difficult? Living in Serbia and being of Slavic origin, I always wondered if I had some Balkan blood in me, and yes indeed I do. The 0.7% of non-European DNA was defined as Middle Eastern/Northern Africa.

The company is also crowd sourcing DNA for its mega database to find insights into the human genome. I gladly contributed to this and with the 300,000 other people who have done this also, wish them luck in their research. The company also matches genetic relatives, known and unknown from the database. I found I have a second cousin who also submitted a saliva sample. There were a bunch of third to sixth cousins. Out of respect to my biological mother, I probably won’t look them up.

Another part of the company are collecting health and ancestry surveys from the participants. With this they can get more specific regarding country origins. The top two countries for me were Poland and Slovakia, which matches what my biological family has told me. Other countries earning percentages were Russia, the Ukraine, Estonia, Romania, and strangely, El Salvador and Cuba.

I am 2.8% related to Neanderthals, and the average European is 2.7%. That puts me in the 72 percentile. Very odd to think that humans bred with Neanderthals and we still carry some Neanderthal DNA with us today.

In tracing my maternal and paternal DNA lines, on my mother’s side I am Haplogroup H, which is typical of Europeans, and found in the Basque and Scandinavian populations. On my father’s side, I am the R1b1b2a1a, which comes from the fringes of the North Sea and over 50% of European men possess this group. Sharing the same paternal line is the media sociologist and author, Malcolm Gladwell.

I will be blogging more about this as I delve into the reports on the web site.



Charles James Kralovec (1932 – 2012)

With his usual class and goodness, my father had a “royal exit” for his death last Thursday. He died of a heart attack while serving on the altar at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in our home village of Caspian, Michigan. Father Gregory Veneklase, the parish priest called it a royal exit because of the circumstances of my father’s death. The morning of February 9th, my Dad, who volunteered at the church countless hours as a lecturer, catechism teacher, etc. helped at a funeral earlier in the morning. He then left church and delivered groceries to an invalid elderly person in our community and then came back to help at a second funeral. He was seated on the altar during the service. A member of the deceased’s family gave the first reading and as she returned to her seat, my Dad gave her a thumbs up, a smile, and a “good job” with his usual positive and support attitude towards others. Shortly thereafter, he passed out in his seat and died of a heart attack. There was a nurse and doctor in church who tried to revive him, but by the time he made it to the North Star Hospital in Iron River, he was gone. He went peacefully and as he would have wanted, on the altar of the church where he had spent so much of his life.

Charlie was born on September 6, 1932 in Menominee, Michigan to Charles James Kralovec, Sr. and Marie Anne  Bernardy. He grew up in Menominee as “Jim” because of sharing the same name as his father. He loved fishing and sports, and was very much affected by the end of the Great Depression and World War II. He graduated in 1950 from Marinette Our Lady of Lourdes High School in nearby Marinette, Wisconsin. He was captain of the basketball team, quarterback of the football team, and class president. He was the catcher on the 1950 Menominee American Legion Baseball Team which won the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Championship and played in Tiger Stadium in Detroit in the State Championships. He went on to graduate from St. Norbert’s College (DePere, Wisconsin) in 1954 with a B.S. degree in Biology.

Kralovec Family Photo – Marie, “Jim”, Loretta, Joan, Charles Sr.

After graduation, he served his country as a medical aide in the US Army’s occupation of Germany from 1954-1956. At his funeral, he was given a 21-gun salute and military honors by the two Veteran of Foreign Wars Posts in Iron River.

Upon his honorable discharge from the United States Army, he enrolled in Northern Michigan University (Marquette, Michigan) and earned his teaching certification. Later he went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Education from NMU in education. Mr. “K” worked at the Stambaugh Public Township School District, later to be named West Iron County Public Schools for 39 years, retiring in 1993. He touched the lives of thousands of young people and his students remember him admiringly for his gentle demeanor and engaging classroom stories. During his time in the district, he was a director of the Head Start program, special education teacher, elementary classroom teacher, Junior High Basketball Coach, Teacher of the Year in 1985, and the last Principal of the Caspian School, which closed in 1971.

My Mom and Dad with Me at our home in Caspian, June 1967

Charlie married the former Yvonne Heikkila on December 29, 1962 at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church, Caspian, and the couple made their home at 508 Baltic Avenue in Caspian. The couple celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary in 2008. Yvonne preceded him in death on January 31, 2009.

Charlie was loved by all and his selfless dedication to others will be greatly missed by the community. He helped many elderly people in the area during his later years. He was also dedicated to youth sports at West Iron County Public Schools. He was the camera man, and public address announcer for the sports teams since 1965. I had the honor this past Monday night to announce the starting lineups in his place for the Wykon girls’ high school basketball game against Hancock. They left an empty chair at the game with his picture and rose on it. I even gave his trademark, “soph-a-more” tagline when announcing the final starter for the Wykons. I would like to give a huge thank you to Athletic Director Mike Berutti and everyone at WIC who organized that special night! I even used a blank line up card that he always completed in preparation for games. At the game and the next day at the funeral home and church, my family received hundreds of warm condolences from our friends and family in the community. Former St. Cecilia pastor, Father James Bracket once called my dad an “earthly saint” and the outpouring of thanks and fond memories of people’s relationship with my father is a testament to that. I would also like to mention his special friends from the school, especially his teaching buddies and their times together at Mac’s Camp. He had a wonderful, full life, with much laughter and love!

My dad in front of his first house in Caspian – circa mid-1960s

He was also preceded in death by his sister Joan Rudd.

Charlie is survived by three sons, William (Nadia) Kralovec of Belgrade, Serbia, James Kralovec (Michelle) of Iron Mountain, Michigan, Andrew Kralovec (Chantalle) of Quito, Ecuador; sister Loretta (Fred) Schaucht of Marinette, Wisconsin; six grandchildren, Scott Youngren, Tony, Beau, Owen, Oliver, and Ocean Kralovec; and numerous neices and nephews.

Memorials can be made to the Yvonne & Charlie Kralovec Memorial Scholarship Fund, 303 4th Avenue, Iron River, MI 49935. The scholarship is awarded annually to female athletes from West Iron County High School for furthering their education. We will have a burial service this summer at the Stambaugh Cementery where he will be buried next to my mother.

Rest in Peace Dad, we will miss you!

My Dad Loved Cutting Grass

Honoring My Father


It was great to see my family in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last weekend. It was a short trip. I joked that I was “relatively” close to Michigan while taking a summer course at the University of Vermont. I decided to fly to Michigan for the weekend. Above is the ceiling tile that my brother Andy arranged to get painted. My Dad belongs to the American Legion Post in Stambaugh, Michigan. The American Legion is an organization that supports veterans who served in the US Military.

My Dad was a member of the 9,000 troop strong Ninth Infantry Division. He was in the army of occupation in Germany in 1956-57. He was stationed at a base outside of Stuttgart. He was part of the forces that they were defending West Germany from the Soviet Red Army stationed just across the border in East Germany. The Soviets has many more troops and weapons and so he joked that in case of an invasion, their instructions were to get in trucks and head to the Rhine!

My Dad enjoyed his time in Germany. By that time, Germany was on the road to recovery with the Marshall Plan. Next time I’m in Caspian I’ll post some photos of him in his army uniform from that time.

I would like to thank my brother Andy and the American Legion for honoring his service to our country.

Dad Reads the Paper - July 16, 2011

Chavez Family History (Severiano Chavez 1884 to 1968)

While I am on holiday in Santa Cruz, I’ve asked Hermes about his father and found some old photographs. Severiano is the great grandfather of my children and I am doing a series of posts on our family’s geneology. It will be good to capture these stories for future generations of my family.

Severiano Chavez Justiniano was born in 1884 and died in 1968. He was born in Santa Cruz, Boliva. He inherited from his father, a land holding of 2,500 hectares (over 6,000 acres) located north of the city in the province of Warnes. He owned 300 head of cattle, and also produced sugar and molasses for the city.

He was not the simple farmer that many immigrants were in America. Severiano belonged to the high society of Santa Cruz and was the governor of the province. He also belonged to the 24 of September Club.The club is named after the date of Santa Cruz’s founding. This is the oldest association of Crucenos dedicated to running of the city and socializing.

Severiano, like many “patrons” of the age, had a rich family life. He was married four times and fathered 9 children.

His first wife was Ester Cronenbold, who died while giving birth to their daughter, Ester Chavez Cronenbold. His next wife was Castulia Zabala and he had three children with her. They were Meri, Mari, and Saul Chavez Zabala. His third wife was my children’s maternal grandmother, Leocadia Chavez. She was very young (born 1926) and despite the same last name, they were NOT related. She had four children, Graciela, Silvia, Hermes, and Ever.

Leocadia sadly fled the ranch when Nadia’s father, Hermes was only 2 and 1/2 years old. She left in the middle of the night with the baby son, Ever. Leocadia ended up in Brazil and it was not until many years later that she came back and saw Hermes again. In recent years, Herme’s brother Ever, came to Santa Cruz from Brazil to stay with Hermes on occasion. He recently died of cancer. I’ll write more about Leocadia and the others in later posts. I wrote previously on Silvia Chavez Chavez.

Severiano at 70 years old married a fourth woman, Sara Pizarro and they lived together for 12 years before Severiano died of pneumonia. Severiano sired a ninth child, Ana Maria Chavez Pizarro.

Because Severiano was so old when he fathered Hermes (age 56), Hermes didn’t really have much to say about his father, although he loved him dearly. Things obviously were much different back then. I wonder what it would have been like here in Bolivia at that time. I’ll try to find out more about him when I come back to Bolivia. I imagine being a rich, land-owning, Creole in the former Spanish colonies had its advantages. Below is a photo of Severiano with some other 20th century gentlemen, most likely the 24 of September Club.