Ed Petrigac was one of 15 children. He met his wife, Yvonne, when both were still in high school in Cleveland. They married after he returned from fighting in the Korean War, where he earned a Purple Heart.
Ed Petrigac met his future wife Yvonne when he was a senior at West Tech High School in Cleveland. He was a stand-out basketball player when he first caught her attention with his radiant smile and beautiful blue eyes. Their first date was to the New York Spaghetti Company in Cleveland. Sixty-eight years later, they are still together.
"Happy. Laid back. Genuine," that’s how Yvonne describes the love of her life. “He’s never needed to be in the limelight," she says. The former athlete is still fit and constantly on the move, and he "still catches" her eye.
Ed was born on March 3, 1932. He was one of 15 children born to Andrew and Susan Dovan, whose parents were of Czech descent. The Dovans began their family life in a coal mining town in West Virginia. His mother died when he was 12; that’s when his father moved the family to Cleveland. Ed and Yvonne continued to court after he graduated high school, went to work and then off to war. He served on the front lines in the Korean War from 1951 to 1954, reaching the rank of corporal and ultimately receiving the Purple Heart for his service. Wounded while serving, Ed returned to Cleveland and his beloved Yvonne. They married on June 18, 1955.
Ed and Yvonne had four kid and together started an auto part business. Ed was known for his community service, and he help hi wife run for and win the position of mayor of North Olmsted, the Cleveland suburb where they settled.
Initially the Petrigacs settled in Bay Village, but their move to North Olmsted in 1968 was the start of 46 years of "family, faith and fun." The newlyweds built a home there and raised four children: Vanessa, Mark, Brenda, and Velinda. The couple started and ran a successful auto parts business for decades. But it was his willingness to help others through community service that earned Ed numerous awards and recognition, including the 2000 Republican Man of the Year Award.
They also launched a political campaign in 1985 when Yvonne ran for mayor of North Olmsted. She won the race, becoming the first woman to hold the post. All along, he was her right hand man. "Everyone respected Ed," Yvonne says. "I never could have run and won without him."
Ed loved restoring cars with his son Mark and collecting coins and playing poker with his three daughters. They lost their youngest, Velinda, to MS at the age of 36. But the family remains strong.
Ed also enjoyed a number of hobbies that he passed along to his children. With his daughter Brenda, Ed shared a love of collecting coins and playing poker. He imparted his love of cars to his only son Mark, with whom he fixed up a 1965 GTO over the course of three years. Mark recalls how he took that car out for its maiden drive—and promptly blew the transmission.
"I called Dad. As we were driving back he looked at me and said, 'Did you put oil in the transmission?'”
Mark replied, “Of course!"
Ed looked at him again, and said, “You didn’t did you?”
Mark eventually admitted: “I didn’t know there was oil in a 4-speed.”
To which Ed replied with a smile: “You do now!"
"That smile of his never changes," Mark says. "It’s always big. Even when I made mistakes!"
Ed and Yvonne endured hard times, too. Their daughter Velinda had multiple sclerosis and died at the age of 36. Yet the Petrigac family stands strong. “We pull together,” Vanessa says. “They [mom and dad] taught us well.”
The couple worked hard and played well together, and they especially enjoyed traveling. They drove across the U.S. in 1995 and and saw many wonderful places, including Mt. Rushmore and other national treasures. They also traveled abroad. “We’ve traveled to Australia, Alaska, Hawaii, Fiji–even to California to see the Rose Bowl—that was so much fun!" Yvonne recalls. "We even took a family cruise once and took everyone, including the grandchildren!”
Ed and Yvonne have 6 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Their family continued to grow with six grandchildren and one great grandchild. In retirement, Ed and Yvonne love to spend time with them. “Our favorite moments are when all of the family is together. We are so blessed,” Yvonne says.
The love and affection for Ed doesn’t just reside in his family. “He is a true gentleman who always wants to help," Yvonne says. "He has always been there with his calming influence." Now, Yvonne is the calming influence for Ed, and for their family.
“We’ve never really been separated,” she says. So, she spends every waking moment of the day in Ed’s room or unit. “I find him wherever he is, and we play games or just sit together. We wanted to stay together," she says. So that’s what they’re doing. Being together.