Dr. Jovan Brkic

dr. jovan brkic
Dr. Jovan Brkic, 90, passed away at his home in north Fargo on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. He was born on February 13, 1927, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), and left his home during WWII. Resuming his education after the interruption of the war, Dr. Brkic studied philosophy and theology at Goettingen University in Germany, located in the British zone of occupation. During this time he worked for the International Refugee Organization (IRO), using his knowledge of multiple languages to interview displaced persons. He immigrated to the United States in 1951, earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, and then moved to New York City. He completed a PhD in philosophy of religion in 1959 through a joint program between Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. While at Columbia, he met his future wife, Beverly Thomas, and they married in 1953. Dr. Brkic’s teaching career began in 1959 at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, and continued from 1963-65 at the University of Vermont. In 1965 he accepted a position in the Philosophy Department at North Dakota State University (NDSU), retiring in 1993 as the Chairman of the department and later Professor Emeritus. Dr. Brkic was greatly respected as a scholar in the fields of philosophy and ethics, in which he combined the disciplines of advanced mathematics, religion, logic, and science. He wrote and published four books: Moral Concepts in Serbian Epic Poetry (doctoral thesis, 1961); Norm and Order (1970); Legal Reasoning (1985); and Bearings (2012), as well as numerous scholarly papers. Described in a 1973 Fargo Forum article as a puzzling mixture of “fire-breathing president of the NDSU chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and a sedate, ivory tower academician”, he vigorously fought for equality in pay for men and women, based largely on a salary study he oversaw while at NDSU. He was also one of the leaders in establishing the Tri-College program in Fargo-Moorhead, which allows students to transfer credits between NDSU, Concordia College, and Minnesota State University Moorhead. He was beloved by many of his students, some of whom continued to visit him regularly. During the 1970’s, Dr. Brkic took up flying single-engine airplanes, eventually becoming a certified pilot with ratings for Visual Flight Rating (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rating (IFR). He purchased a small airplane which he flew across the United States, including a landing at the highest altitude airport in the U.S. in Leadville, CO. Dr. Brkic is survived by daughters Vida Edmond (Tom), and Alexandra Griffin (Gary); grandchildren Katie Edmond, Taylor Griffin, and Evan Griffin; and niece Natali Nikolic. He was preceded in death by his wife Beverly, parents Dragisha and Vida Brkic, and sister Lepa. A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 24, from 3:00-6:00 PM, at the McGovern Alumni Center, 1241 North University Drive, Fargo. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the school of your choice. Arrangements entrusted to the care of Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center, Fargo. To sign the online guestbook, visit www.boulgerfuneralhome.com.

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  1. Dr. Brkic was one of the best professors I had at NDSU. He could pull the rug right out from under your feet every class period. He opened my mind to look at ideas and subjects in new ways. I was always amazed by his lectures. He was a great teacher.

  2. Dr. Brkic’s NDSU courses in logic were a joy of pure academic pursuit. I fondly recall his chuckling in class as he illustrated the power of following a rational train of thought to a conclusion that was otherwise hidden. The mental skills he taught back in the 1970s served me so well in my personal and professional life ever since, for which I’m deeply grateful.

  3. I had the great privilege of meeting Dr Brkic through our store. He had impeccable taste and appreciated quality in everything. I was able to enjoy lunch on occasion and always appreciated his grasp of world affairs. One of my great life adventures was when I was invited to go flying over the black hills of SD . It was after they told him he couldn’t fly alone anymore because of a health condition. He hired a pilot to come along and a four hour adventure ended up taking the whole day. He will be missed for his intellect and kindness and his joy of life and family. Rick Stern

  4. Vida – I’m so sorry for your loss. Your father sounds like an amazingly gifted man, gifted all the more for having a daughter like you.

  5. Johan likely would prefer a non-specific, non-colored candle, so that is what I’m leaving with him.

    I studied under Dr. Brkic at NDSU before going to the University of Wisconsin Computer Sciences Department which was founded by Johan’s friends.

    Johan was a wonderful teacher with a great imagination outside of his expertise: religion and the studies of it.

    My wife, Mari, is an archeologist and anthropologist. She values what I learned from Johan, and the ability it gives me to note “flap my wings like a duck in water who sinks the more he flaps.”

    R.I.P. my professor, teacher, and example of Integrity in life, the universe and everything.

    Todd Bezenek
    CTO, Fritter inc

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