Friends remember geology professor

Mariana Silva

Students raising funds for tree in her memory

Photo courtesy of the Geology Department.

Credit: DKS Editors

A war in her home country of Croatia, a battle with breast cancer and numerous other heath problems did not keep geology professor Ksenija Namjesnik-Dejanovic from leading a “life well-lived.”

Namjesnik-Dejanovic, 47, died Saturday at her home from heart complications after a 9-year battle with breast cancer.

Her friends and peers focused mostly on her life rather than her death.

“One of the greatest things about her is her example of personal courage,” said Don Palmer, graduate program coordinator who met Namjesnik-Dejanovic as a graduate student and worked with her until her last days at the university. “We were really lucky she came here.”

Namjesnik-Dejanovic was born in 1965 in Koprivnica, Republic of Croatia and moved close to her relatives in Ohio in 1994. Her move to the United States was preceded by completing her master’s degree in geochemistry from the University of Zagreb in Croatia.

Alison Smith, professor in the department of geology, said Namjesnik-Dejanovic came to the U.S. to get away from the Croatian War of Independence, fought from 1991 to 1995.

As a student at Kent State, Namjesnik-Dejanoivc was given the outstanding Ph.D. student award in 1998. She received her doctorate in applied geology from Kent State in 1999.

Her dissertation title was “Conformations of humic acids substances and their sorption to mineral surfaces,” one of her areas of expertise, which, according to Palmer, helped many others in the field.

In 2000, Namjesnik-Dejanovic joined the department of geology, where she worked as a part-time instructor and as a research scientist. She received the best teaching assistant award the same year.

Besides her courage and love for life, Namjesnik-Dejanovic was also known among her friends for her sense of humor and for her talent as a cook and a gardener.

“She did have magic hands, I tell you,” Palmer said.

Smith said everyone in the geology department would be rewarded with Namjesnik-Dejanovic’s baked goods, fresh organic vegetables and even fresh eggs from her own hens.

“You would get your mail in the box, and you would find a dozen eggs,” Smith said. “She lived her life very well, and we will really miss her.”

Geology students are raising funds to purchase and plant a tree in the memory of Namjesnik-Dejanovic. The tree will be planted near McGilvrey Hall, close to Namjesnik-Dejanovic’s students, peers and friends.

“That is great. Her mom will be really proud of her, and me too, ” said Mijo Dejanovic, Namjesnik-Dejanovic’s husband.

The students will choose between a Ginko and a Scholar tree as a symbolic memorial, geology major Tara Jonell said.

Namjesnik-Dejanovic’s memorial service will be tomorrow at the St. Ambrose Church in Garrettsville between 10 a.m. and noon, followed by a mass service.

Students interested in donating to Namjesnik-Dejanovic’s tree memorial may contact department of geology secretary Karen Smith at 330-672-2680.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Mariana Silva at [email protected].