Fri, May 24

Village People: Vaso Lazic: Taking life as it comes

Vaso Lazic

Vaso Lazic

Vaso Lazic doesn’t get overly excited about much. He takes life as it comes, the good and the bad. He has strong opinions about things. Life is black and white.

There’s no grey area. Vaso doesn’t care about race, religion or orientation, respects his community and neighbors, trusts people, assumes they are generally good (though some are just lost in the mess of our culture), works hard, appreciates his employer (Wyndham Resorts), doesn’t complain (much), and is crazy about kids! And he better not see anyone abusing their kids.

Vaso was born in Communist Yugoslavia during the Soviet empire (Yugoslavia fought with the Allies, but was handed over to the Soviets after the war).

There were Communists, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Muslims. The Communist families lived well, enjoying clothes, food, housing, even vacations.

The Orthodox Christian families struggled. Not enough food or shelter. Nonexistent basic human rights.

They celebrated Christmas with blankets over the windows so neighbors wouldn’t see their decorations and call the authorities.

Going to school, playing sports, enjoying friends – as a kid he was happy, and mostly unaware of how hard life was. His father was a master caster of metal parts, his mother a secretary.

Vaso raised his brother, Milovan. Except for one aunt, his extended family “was all killed in WWII by the Nazis.” Vaso earned an engineering degree in hydraulics and pneumatics, working in a factory with 20,000 employees for two years, before the war.

At age 23, Vaso found himself drafted into the Serbian army. He got a phone call: “Show up when and where you’re told, or we’ll come get you.” He was given a rifle, a uniform and told where to go fight. “There was a shortage of almost everything, but there was unlimited ammunition.”

Fleeing their nation in 1997, his family arrived in Phoenix as refugees, with all their cold climate clothing.

They were offered government assistance, but turned it down, working and earning their way, the brothers at hotels and the parents at Honeywell. It was culture shock.

“I didn’t know how to pump gas, pay for gas, shop for groceries or anything else. But people were so helpful. I learned English from TV and newspapers. I read everything I could get my hands on.”

He moved to the VOC in ’08.

Vaso adores Marla, his wife of seven years, and Hunter, his 17 year-old son, bragging on them both.

He and his brother fly fish, where they have to do serious hiking to get to water.

He says if he ever stumbles across enough money (or wins Powerball) his dream is to open a hotel in Sedona for abused kids, where they can visit and enjoy VIP treatment, balloon rides, jeep tours, amazing food and more. He wants to run the hotel and make kids happy.

Jim Cunningham, Jr. is a pastor, husband, father, lover of people, friend, neighbor, counselor, teacher, book collector, and jack-of-all-trades. Meet him here each month to become acquainted with yet another Village resident.