“Life is a funny thing, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Belvedere Senior Housing resident Elizabeth Zunich. Betty, as she likes to be called, certainly has seen a lot in her life. Full of twists and turns, Zunich has led the adventurous life that most can only dream of.
“I’ve done so many things and been to so many places,” Zunich said.
Born and raised in Hobart, Indiana, Zunich met her first husband in high school. After they were engaged, she remained in Hobart to finish her Senior year while he deployed with the Air Force to Germany. When he returned, they married and moved to a family farm her father had purchased in Hebron, where they helped take care of the farm all while raising their three children.
“We had to learn a lot,” she said. “It’s a hard job, but I think it gave the kids a good upbringing. They learned to work.”
One of the major turns in Zunich’s life happened in her late 30s when she decided, now that her children were mostly grown, that she needed to seek independence from her husband. They divorced and Zunich struck out to support herself. She took a job in a local steel mill and moved in with her mother.
For almost a decade her path varied little. Zunich worked and cared for her mother and now grown children. Hobart was her home and she would often drive around town in her spare time.
“I used to cruise Broadway, and I was in my 40s,” Zunich said. “One time a bunch of guys asked me, ‘Your son let you borrow his car?’ and I said, ‘Nope, it’s mine.’”
A second twist came into her life the summer Zunich decided to attend her high school reunion. It was there that she reconnected with a former friend, Ed Matovich, who was in town from California for the event. They immediately felt a connection and found that they had much in common. Over the next several months, they wrote each other notes and cards, and talked to each other over the phone. In October, Matovich finally convinced Zunich to move out to California, and the couple eventually eloped to Mexico.
“It was a little love affair in your old age, even though we weren’t that old,” Zunich said. “It was fun. It was like being a teenager all over again.”
During her time in California, Zunich’s life was a virtual maze of twists and turns. Matovich’s scientific mind was in high demand and that sent the couple all over the world. They spent a month traveling through Europe, visiting Greece, Italy, and even Yugoslavia, where Zunich visited the town from which her father had emigrated. The couple made it as far as South Africa, which was Zunich’s favorite place to visit.
“I liked the openness of it, and it was so different,” Zunich said.
During that time, Matovich helped Zunich pursue many creative outlets. The couple were a part of a local theater group and performed in multiple plays and musicals. Noticing that Zunich liked to draw and doodle, Matovich bought her painting materials and encouraged her to take up painting. Zunich was a natural artist and soon found herself creating pet portraits and landscape scenes, most of which she gave away to family and friends. She worked in a clothing boutique with a friend, which was often frequented by movie stars.
Zunich’s life in California was rich and full of adventure. A sad turn came to her life, however, when Matovich passed away. Zunich brought herself back to Indiana to live her mother, whom she cared for almost the rest of her mother’s life.
Soon after moving back to the area, Zunich was in a car accident and broke her femur. She was very unsure of where life would take her next.
“I didn’t think I was ever going to walk again,” Zunich said.
Zunich did recover and found herself working at WiseWay. During this season of her life, she saw a poster for the Hobart based M&M Productions, who were putting on the musical “Oliver!” That was the last musical she and Matovich performed in together, and she knew she needed to check it out. This rekindled her love for theater, and she joined the M&M team and performed with them for many years.
There were many other twists and turns in Zunich’s life over the next several years, some joyous, some sad. They took her from Indiana to Colorado and back to Indiana again. All of these turns eventually led her to Belvedere Senior Housing, where she now resides.
“I really enjoy the staff and everybody here,” Zunich said. “They’ve been so nice to me.”
Though Zunich’s current path may seem straightforward to onlookers, there are still plenty of twists and turns in action. For instance, Zunich plays piano and organ for the enjoyment of her fellow residents. She often takes requests and if she doesn’t know the song, she’ll learn it for another day.
Looking ahead, she has a desire to pick up the paintbrush again, possibly to finish one of her paintings that’s remained unfinished since she came back to Indiana after Matovich passed. It’s been with her since that time, through multiple moves and life changes. Today, it sits on top of her dresser, an ever-present reminder of her unfinished work. But Zunich knows that art is never really finished.
“Artists never know when their work is done.
It’s never done, they’re always diddling around with it.”
For more information on Belvedere Senior Housing, visit their website here: https://www.gardant.com/belvedereseniorhousing/.