Life Story for
George (Duro) Naray (1920-2017)
George was born in the former Jugoslavia, in the province of Croatia. His father, Adam left his wife, Elizabeth, and children to work in Canada. Although he returned periodically, his wife did not wish to move to Canada.
There were five children in the family. His sister died at age five. Of the remaining four boys, one was killed in WW II. The family lived in a small village with their mother, Elizabeth who raised her boys strictly but lovingly.
The family were peasant farmers (as were many in that time and place). Because there was no male head of household, George’s mother rented out their land and collected some of the produce of the land as payment. She traded goods and services. Elizabeth was a good manager of their resources and the boys lacked nothing.
George was not as strong as his brothers. He was unsuited for farm work. Not knowing what other line of work might be more appropriate, George was apprenticed to a cabinet maker and earned a diploma.
George married Ana Djetvay in 1949. Shortly after that, with his encouragement, Ana shed her traditional, peasant clothing and adopted a more modern, city look.
Mom and dad moved into a village home that had tiled as well as wooden floors. This rather grand home for its time and place had belonged to Ana’s grandfather who owned a store, a guesthouse and operated a “library”. Here villagers could come to read the newspapers.
George’s cabinet making business thrived. His contracts sent him around the country and sometimes my mother, and even his young daughter, on occasion, joined him.
Many from the village, including his siblings, left communist Jugoslavia for better lives elsewhere. They were refugees and migrants looking for a better life. Some of his cousins left for Australia and South America. One of his brothers and young family spent two years in a refugee camp in Italy before moving to Canada (Toronto). His older brother immigrated through Austria. The three boys and their families joined their father, Adam, and their mother, Elizabeth in Toronto, got jobs and built a life in Canada. Elizabeth had joined Adam in Canada in the early ‘50s after over 20 years of separation. Her boys had left and so she no longer had a reason to stay in Croatia.
George was the first of his family to come to Canada with a Jugoslavian passport. The George Naray family of five, (parents, oldest daughter Margaretta, and the twins, also George and Ana) came to live with Adam and Elizabeth on Augusta Avenue in a two story Victorian house in the Kensington Market area.
George’s nephew helped him find a job as a kitchen cabinet installer. Within the first year, George had bought a car and a home on Margueretta St in the west end of Toronto. In the beginning he had to rush from work to ensure that the mortgage payment got to the bank on time.
The family were soon visiting friends (from the old country) in Delhi and Paris, Ontario, visited Niagara Falls and picnicked at Musselman Lake on Sundays. For many years the family went to Lake Nipissing for the opening of the fishing season. There are fond memories of fish fries with the nuclear family and extended family on the islands of Lake Nippissing. Later there was a tent trailer and camping around Ontario.
After living in the west end, the Narays moved to North York, to the Keele & Lawrence area.
From there they moved to Aurora where their now adult children and their families had settled.
Two of my George’s nephews had cottage properties in Norland. There were many weekends spent swimming, boating and enjoying family pig roasts.
When their children got older and no longer needed them at home, George and Ana began to holiday in Florida in their HI-LO trailer. They travelled to the east coast and as far west as Vancouver Island. Recently, Mel and Margaretta were also in BC and visited Butchart Gardens in Victoria because they had talked so much about the place decades earlier.
They (George in particular) loved traveling in Canada. For his job, he travelled around Ontario and my mother sometimes joined him on some of these trips. He loved exploring and learning the geography of his adopted home.
In his 60s George and Ana learned to cross country ski. His son and daughter, along with their spouses, spent many weekends on the trails at Horseshoe Valley.
When Margaretta moved to Aurora, her brother George and their young family also moved to Aurora. George and Ana soon followed.
When his son George and his family started going to their water access only cottage, George and Ana were welcome guests. Soon George Sr began construction in his garage of a small, one room cabin which he re assembled on the cottage property. Their little cabin even had its own front porch. The senior Narays could then keep their own hours without disturbing the rest of the family or other guests. George and Ana liked to go to bed early and wake up early.
A few years ago George and Ana wanted to find a place where their day to day needs would be looked after. They have been at Good Samaritan Lodge for over two years. Recently, George Sr. was moved to long term care at Good Sam. The entire family, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as well as family friends spent Christmas 2017 celebrating what turned out to be his last Christmas. George died in his sleep on December 27, 2017.
Beloved husband of Ana (Djetvay) Naray, and sadly missed by Margaretta Naray (Mel Pyper), Ashley Wheelan (Lulu Chen Wheelan), Isabelle Wheelan, Catherine Wheelan, Emily Wheelan, Beau Wheelan, George J Naray (Shirley Leska Naray-deceased), George A Naray (Katie Whitham Naray), Easton, Mason, Jace & Georgia (twins), Nicole A Naray (Nelson Coelho), Eathan, Benjamin, Matthew, Michelle J Naray (Chris Fenwick),Hudson.He will be missed by all who knew him. He was kind, loving, cheerful, and enjoyed the company of family and friends. His children were blessed to have such a good dad.