My father died recently, and I wanted to honor him by writing an obituary that captured his adventurous and rich life. With my mother’s help reminding me of key events, and my husband’s help editing, this is what I wrote:
Leo Drobnic, 76, a retired practitioner of Chinese medicine in the Austin area, died Friday, April 27.
Leo’s lifetime spanned three continents. He was born in 1941 in Milocer in the former Yugoslavia to servants of the royal family. Shortly after World War II, his parents escaped communism with Leo and his younger brother, Jose, crossing from their native Slovenia into Italy. The family spent 1948 as refugees in Italy’s displaced person camps while attempting to reach the United States. Unable to immigrate to America, the family instead traveled to Venezuela, where they opened a restaurant. Leo attended high school and some college in Caracas. When civil unrest interrupted his studies, Leo made a second attempt to reach the United States, this time successfully. He studied engineering and computer science at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
At LSU, Leo met Faye Marin of Patterson, La. They married in 1968 and had two daughters. Leo worked briefly as an engineer at McDermott Shipbuilding near Morgan City, then joined Patterson State Bank, where he worked alongside other members of the Marin family.
In 1990, Leo began a major career change. He left Louisiana to study massage therapy at the New England School of Shiatsu in Boston, Mass. After graduating, he moved to Austin and opened a professional practice. He expanded his studies into Chinese acupuncture and herbs at the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. For nearly 20 years, Leo practiced Chinese healing, working with clients around the Austin area. He retired to Creekside Villas in Buda, Texas.
Leo died of congestive heart failure and other complications. He was treated with care at Seton Medical Center Hays in Kyle, Texas, and was surrounded by loved ones at his passing.
Leo is survived by his daughters, Marina Drobnic of Houston, Texas, and Angie Drobnic Holan and her husband Mark Holan of Arlington, Va.; his brother Jose Drobnic of Andover, Mass.; and his former wife Faye Drobnic of Lafayette, La.
A funeral Mass will be held 11 a.m. May 26 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Patterson, La. In lieu of flowers the family asks donations be made to the Seton Hays Foundation, 1345 Philomena St., Austin, Texas 78723; or Hospice Austin, 4107 Spicewood Springs Rd., Suite 100, Austin, TX 78759.