Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

Žarko Čiplić

Žarko Čiplić, a teacher, was born on March 27, 1887, in Stari Bečej. His father Jovan was a teacher, and his mother Sofija, born Gavrilović from Srpska Crnja, was a homemaker. He completed primary and secondary school in Stari Bečej, and teacher training school in Sombor. He graduated from teacher training school in 1908 as the top student of his class. Throughout his schooling at the Sombor Preparandija, he stood out with extraordinary musical talent — he had a beautiful voice (lyric baritone) and excelled at playing the violin. He also demonstrated a similar talent in painting, which was noted as early as elementary school.

Žarko was highly proficient in the Hungarian literary language. At his teacher training school graduation, he received a special state award (a five-forint ducat) for his excellent performance in Hungarian. He mastered Old Church Slavonic to such an extent that he successfully translated a novel from our medieval literature about Alexander the Great of Macedonia into contemporary Serbian. This translation was printed at Giga Jovanović's printing house in Novi Bečej, who was also the publisher.

After completing teacher training school, his first teaching position was in the small Banat village of Potporanj near Bela Crkva, where he spent only one year before moving to Novi Bečej in the autumn of 1909.

From his arrival in Novi Bečej until the end of World War I in 1918, he was a teacher at the Serbian Orthodox elementary school, and also a teacher at the Hungarian State Civil School (polgari), where he taught drawing, singing, and directed the student choir.

After these regions joined Yugoslavia (Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes) in 1918, he served as a teacher and school administrator at the elementary school in Novi Bečej for a long time, and continued teaching at the State Civil School. When the Harkov Institute (Russian Women's Gymnasium) opened in Novi Bečej in 1920, and four years later (1924) the Private Full Real Gymnasium with Public Rights, Žarko became a teacher at both schools.

From 1925 to 1930, Žarko served as the district school inspector for the Novi Bečej district. He was dismissed from this position for failing to respond to the call of Dimitrije Vujić, the district of Novi Bečej's member of parliament, to engage as an agitator in the pre-election campaign.

Not long after the election, authorities transferred him to teach in the village of Aleksandrovo (Velike Livade). Despite protesting to the Ministry of Education in Belgrade against the injustice, he had to move to Aleksandrovo.

He stayed in Aleksandrovo for a short time, as with the help of friends, he managed to retire and have his wife Sara reinstated as a teacher in Novi Bečej. He returned to Novi Bečej, now free to take on new social tasks.

Žarko was not only a teacher, and his contribution was not only in the field of education; his activities were diverse. It is not an exaggeration to say he was versatile. He worked as the secretary of the Association of Craftsmen for the Novi Bečej district, was secretary of the Urbarial Community throughout his time in Novi Bečej, secretary of the Serbian Orthodox Church municipality, and after the moratorium on peasant debts (1932/33), he took over as the manager of the agricultural cooperative savings bank in Novi Bečej. In addition to all this, he gave private violin lessons.

Considering his involvement in all schools in Novi Bečej, from elementary to the Harkov Institute and the private gymnasium, as well as managing the affairs of the listed associations and organizations, one might ask: when was this man ever free, and did he even have time for family, personal life, and rest? He did have time and managed to devote himself to his family, satisfy his hobbies, and always remain cheerful and smiling.

Firmly committed as a Yugoslav, he became a member of the Sokol society and participated in all of its public events and gatherings. Žarko also led Sokol choirs and participated with them in Sokol competitions. The choir he led was one of the best in Banat, regularly achieving second place in the Bečkerek county. For his work in Sokol, he received several medals and trophies, in addition to badges, and was elected as the head of the Sokol society.

During his tenure as the head of the Sokol society, the Sokol football club was founded, with him serving as its first president.

In the early years after World War I, there wasn't a significant event or academy whose organizer wasn't Žarko. Besides being a lecturer and usually opening events with speeches, he performed with his choirs as a soloist or violinist. He also engaged in scenography, and the sets he painted were used in all amateur theater productions by Serb enthusiasts in Novi Bečej until World War II.

Upon arriving in Novi Bečej, he became the choir conductor of the Serbian Church Singing Society. This choir performed Mokranjac's liturgy in the church and participated in many academies and events. Later, after World War I in 1918, Žarko founded the Agricultural Cultural and Artistic Society "Omladinsko kolo". He led the choir of this society, directed amateur theater productions, and served as the librarian.

He considered raising the cultural level as his most important task. Therefore, he embarked on a serious endeavor to establish a philharmonic orchestra in Novi Bečej. In collaboration with the conductor of the Russian women's choir of the Harkov Institute, Jakov Pavlović-Kobec, who like Žarko was an excellent violinist, they gathered almost all citizens who knew how to play instruments and began their work. The first piece they prepared was the overture to Rossini's opera "The Barber of Seville". The philharmonic orchestra performed at one concert, but despite their great efforts, it did not receive the expected audience response. Žarko, sensitive to the audience's taste, concluded that it was a leap that the people of Bečej were not ready to embrace, and the philharmonic orchestra disbanded.

Firefighting held a special place in Žarko Čiplić's life. After retiring, he dedicated himself to firefighting, which would be his main concern in his later life, especially after leaving Novi Bečej.

He joined the Volunteer Fire Brigade in Novi Bečej and became one of its most active members. His diligent work and great popularity led him to the position of the head of the society. Under his leadership, the society progressed and was recognized as an example of discipline and good organization.

Thanks to his work in the Volunteer Fire Brigade in Novi Bečej, he gained recognition in firefighting circles across Vojvodina and was elected as the secretary of the Union of Volunteer Fire Brigades of Vojvodina in Novi Sad.

Enthusiastic about firefighting and the recognition he received, and since his son Bogdan was already in Novi Sad as a gymnasium professor, Žarko summoned the strength to part ways with Novi Bečej in 1939, where he had spent thirty full years and devoted all his youthful enthusiasm and life energy to it, and moved to Novi Sad.

Žarko still had plenty of strength left and continued to work fervently in firefighting even after World War II. He was elected as the vice president of the Volunteer Fire Brigades of Serbia, and after several years serving as the chief of the Fire Brigade Department in the Secretariat of Internal Affairs of Vojvodina, he moved to Belgrade to serve in the same capacity in the SR Serbia, where he remained until retirement.

Žarko was exceptionally conscientious, punctual, and orderly, both at work and in his private life. He approached all tasks with maximum conscientiousness. At work, he was extremely serious, and in his interactions with people, he was measured. His physical stature, tall and strong, with a perpetually slightly smiling expression, inspired confidence in people that they could approach him at any time and seek the help he willingly and selflessly provided. With such qualities and inexhaustible work energy, he was one of the most popular individuals in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo, as well as in the Novi Bečej district.

Conscientious and accurate execution of all tasks indicates that he was an extraordinary organizer who knew how to allocate and coordinate his energy and time. Wherever he worked, he enjoyed the highest reputation and was an authority figure among his colleagues.

Within his family, he was gentle, but for his children, he was a supreme authority — as his son Bogdan once said in a conversation.

Žarko engaged in painting with great love. It was a necessity for him and his favorite form of relaxation during leisure time. He painted landscapes, still lifes, and icons. Among the most beautiful icons preserved by some families in Novi Bečej today are those painted by Žarko Čiplić. In this field as well, Žarko was a teacher of the people, ready to help anyone who showed interest in painting. In addition to his students in elementary school and high school, Boža Dujin and Paja Garčev learned set design and sign writing from him, and they used the acquired knowledge extensively for stage decoration in Vranjevo and sign writing in Novi Bečej.

Žarko Čiplić was made of talent and great life and work energy, which is why he couldn't comprehend living without work. When he was informed, on January 28, 1958, that he was retiring at the age of seventy-one, he fell ill, and that same evening he passed away.

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