Community mourns a friend's passingBernie Zupancich, the beloved owner of Zups Grocery in Silver Bay, died Nov. 8 after suffering a stroke. He was 71.
By: News-Chronicle, Lake County News Chronicle
Bernie Zupancich, the beloved owner of Zups Grocery in Silver Bay, died Nov. 8 after suffering a stroke. He was 71.
“He knew hundreds of people and they are very sad to hear the news,” his friend Kathy Soderstrom said.
“He greeted everybody with a smile,” she continued. “The little kids, he just always patted kids on the head, and said hello. Babies loved him, babies would just smile when he talked to them. He would always ask them if they were ready to eat steak.”
His family was at his side at the time of his passing, which they described as peaceful.
“He was in little to no pain,” said his son, Brian Zupancich, noting his boundless energy running the grocery store. “He would walk around faster, doing stuff than any of us.”
Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson was also impressed by Zupancich’s work ethic.
“Any of us should be as hard a worker as Bernie was,” Johnson said, adding: “He was probably one of the most giving people I have ever known … He probably gave to, and either donated time and or efforts to almost every cause in town.”
Born in Ely on June 14, 1941, Zupancich was president of the family-owned Zupancich Corporation, which operates six area grocery stores, and was also a part-owner of the Americinn Hotel in Silver Bay, according to his obituary in the Duluth News Tribune.
He graduated from high school in Ely in 1959 and attended junior college in that city, where he also worked at the family’s grocery store. He married Sandra Leslie Elfving in 1963 and the next year became manager of the Silver Bay store.
Zupancich served on many board and received accolades from the cities of Silver Bay, Beaver Bay and Finland, as well as the Red Cross and many other organizations, according to his obituary. He was voted Lake County’s Man of the Year, the Blue Line Club Fan of the Year and also the “M” Club Fan of the Year. He was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Silver Bay and loved to hunt, fish, bowl, golf, play cards and attend high school sporting events.
Zupancich was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Edward, mother-in-law Eileen Elfving, and a brother-in-law, Joe Jamnick. He is survived by his wife, Sandra, his son, Brian (Theresa) of Silver Bay; three siblings, Theresa Jamnick of Ely, Paul (Pat) of Ely, Robert (Deb) of Ely; a sister-in-law Judith Zupancich of Silver Bay, and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
The public is welcome to attend his funeral service at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Silver Bay on Sat., Nov. 17, at 11 a.m., with visitation at 10. To sign the on-line register book please visit www.cavallinfuneralhome.com
“He would do anything for anybody at any time,” Wade LeBlanc, a friend said. “He was just a good, good man.”
The Northland’s NewsCenter contributed to this report.