Milan (Mike) Babich, 90, passed away with family at his side on Saturday, December 7, after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. Mike was born on September 4, 1923 in Calumet, Minnesota to Mike and Mary Babich and moved with his family to Akron, Ohio as a child. His parents returned to their native Yugoslavia and enrolled Mike in a prep school to prepare him for the University of Belgrade. It was during this time that Mike developed his interest in automobiles and auto racing. He often mentioned having seen Tazio Nuvolari drive an Auto Union at the Belgrade Grand Prix.
After the United States entered into World War II, Mike was taken into custody and spent 2 ½ years in German prison camps as a civilian detainee. He was sent home to Akron in a prisoner exchange and shortly after drafted into the Army. The war ended while he was still in basic training. He joined the Army Reserve and later served in Korea. He participated on a US team with Russian counterparts who measured off the 38th Parallel, which divides North and South Korea today. He was called into active duty again in late 1952 as part of a military presence in Munich, Germany. His first wife,
Edith, accompanied him to Munich and their first child was born there.
Mike retired from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company after 42 years of service. The last 20 plus years were spent in the Racing Division where his vocation was truly aligned with two of the passions in his life, automobiles and racing. His job took him to all parts of the United States with a few trips to Europe and Australia mixed in. He made
many treasured friendships during his career. After retiring from Goodyear, with Rosalie's encouragement, he acted upon his belief that a custard stand would go over well in North Canton and that he had a perfect spot picked out on South Main Street. In 1987, they opened Ro's Custard Creations, which they operated for four years before selling it to his step-daughter and her husband. It remains a thriving business to this day.
He was an active member of Zion Lutheran Church, in North Canton, serving at times on the church board and Stewardship Committee. He was also active in the Lions Club in the past.
Mike was preceded in death by his first wife, Edith (Nystrom). He is survived by his wife and best friend of 33 years, Rosalie (Cooper), his children Marc of Cuyahoga Falls, Helene Babich (Chip Bruchac) of Worthington, Ohio, Diane (Gary) Sutch of Ramona, California; step-children Mark (Becky) Clark of Canton, Janet (Denny) Albert of Clinton; 10 grandchildren; and 3 great-grandchildren.
The family would like to thank the staff at Harbor Lights Hospice for the compassionate care that Dad received. It far exceeded anything that we could have hoped for.
Friends may call on Wednesday, December 11 from 4 to 7 pm at Karlo-Libby Funeral Home at 5000 Everhard Road NW, Canton, Ohio 44718. Funeral service will be held on Thursday, December 12 at 11:00 AM at Zion Lutheran Church, 349 Lindy Lane Ave. NW, North Canton, Ohio 44720. The family will also receive friends at 10:00 AM before the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials may be made to The
, 23215 Commerce Park Drive, Suite 300, Beachwood, Ohio 44122-5843, or to Harbor Lights Hospice at 323-C South Main Street, Munroe Falls, Ohio 44262.