Story of Ivan

Ivan Bulić was born in Zagreb on January 11th 1985 as the first and only child of mother Dajana and father Vlatko (Vladimir) Bulić, in the evening when the temperature in snowy-white Zagreb fell below -20 degrees Celsius.



He lived surrounded with love, kindness, care and attention from his parents, and his mother, wanting to dedicate as much time to Ivan as possible, stopped working at the Traumatology hospital in Zagreb.

He made his first steps in a park in front of the parent’s home in Špansko, trying to pull a baby stroller with a horse carriage and big angel with wings, forgetting about fear and trying to pull it even harder so the angel could spread his wings. He liked to play with numerous elephant sculptures his father had collected and brought from travels all around the world. In fact, he liked them so much that in a couple of years the number of elephants in the rich collection was significantly reduced.

At the end of 1986, Ivan moved with his parents to Stuttgart, Germany, where his father started working as the Manager of the Representative Office of the United bank of Croatia in Baden-Württemberg. Growing up in this beautiful city, filled with parks, greenery and children’s playgrounds, Ivan was fluent in two languages – Croatian, spoken at home and German, through kindergarten and everyday conversations. Also, by the time he was four, his parents sent him to England for a month to attend his first summer school of English, as part of a kindergarten group. It is probably of this multicultural and multilingual environment that made Ivan’s education progress so rapid, as well as developing excellent memory and a sharp mind.



A determined “Capricorn” by horoscope, sometimes even stubborn and hard-headed, he always knew how to accomplish what he set out to do and acquire information he wanted to know. During conversations with his mother and father he would, diligently and by counting, ask “why” more than a hundred times a day. To any answer his parents would give him, he would proceed with a new, magical, “Why”. Not getting an answer was not an option.
He loved storytelling in the afternoon and before bedtime with countless repetitions, so much that he could recite many of the children’s songs and stories.

From childhood through his youth, he showed an unusual curiosity for everything around him, especially for geography, the globe, sea, mountains and travel. He would compete with his father as who could name more countries and cities on a large map laid out in the middle of the living room in their home in Stuttgart. He loved Greek mythology and knew all Greek heroes from Illiad and Odyssey.
As he liked animals, one would find his pets jumping around, chirping, flying, swimming, making noise and spreading their special scents, some inside the house and some in their garden. There were bunnies, mice, a hamster, a hedgehog, turtles, a parrot, fish, etc. With all this little animal kingdom in the house, he longed for a horse and a dog. He liked to take care of his little friends, make them comfortable and always have enough food and water for them. He would sit and talk to them for hours. With the same care and true heart, he built friendships in his Waldorf kindergarten with children from countries all around the world, and invited everyone to visit their home, yard or his room.
He would love to visit his kindergarten friends and tell his parents how his friends lived, what they had and if they had fun.



The days he loved the most were the ones when they would make Chinese lanterns, ignite them and let them fly or when he would go to the beet or cabbage fields with his father to fly kites he would make at home with his father and mother. They would ride bicycles across field roads to small towns nearby Stuttgart, some even 30 kilometres away. Sometimes those were tough travels for such a small cyclist.

A big fighter and a proud little man never fell behind, never gave up, always determined and proud, never defeated. As an athlete, he played tennis from a young age, started swimming and skiing by the age of three, loved to compete in skiing, and later in snowboarding, dive to exhaustion, always challenging the limits of possible. He liked to win. He admired winners and champions. Golf and Formula 1 have been his dream sports ever since he was a child.
When he found something interesting, he wanted to know everything on that subject. He absorbed information from the TV, constantly asked his mother and father, and later, in adolescent years, the Internet and Google were his golden source of information until late at night.



He liked to travel. As a kid, on the back seat of his father’s car, he liked frequent weekend trips to the homeland, and would often comment on buildings he saw through the window as “nice house”.
On weekends, he enjoyed themed trips to Germany and neighbouring countries, such as Switzerland, Austria and France where his parents would often take him to visit numerous castles, churches, museums and various other architectural, historical and cultural sights. It was never too difficult for Ivan to visit those sights because he liked history and always had a thousand questions about the lifestyle and culture of people from the Middle Ages and before.
He loved endless walks in nature, in parks, playing golf or walking with Ivana and Kimi, and he loved the green color. Green was definitely his color. He loved the many cruises to remote destinations where he would spend his summers, visiting the Wonders of the World and attractions in Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, northern Africa, Canada and the United States. The Pyramids and the Sphinx were the pinnacles of human, architectural accomplishments.
The Grand Canyon and Alaska are the places he found the most beautiful and the most impressive in the whole world.
He also enjoyed the week-long skiing trips in the Alpine countries, where he would race with his mother and father and polish his sporty style of skiing. He liked the sea, sailing in great waves particularly, when he could personally command the boat as a young man and fight the nature, wind and waves.
Traveling was his way of life, a way of getting to know the world, people and their cultures. He absorbed the beauty of language diversity and customs and realized their value and wealth. He loved the strolls through small towns of Europe where he would observe and enjoy the shows of street performers and he would never forget to reward them with a mark, franc, euro or two in their hats, pots or bags. He always dragged his father and asked for coins for those hardworking and good people who made us, strangers, happy with their skills.
There was no way of passing by a poor man, a beggar or someone else in need and not putting a bill of marks or francs in their box.



At the beginning of 1991, parents decided to return to the homeland, to Zagreb and try their luck in private entrepreneurship, in the new, independent Croatia.
Shortly after their return and Ivan’s entering the first grade of Fran Galović Elementary School in Dugave, Zagreb, where they built their family house, first aerial strikes occurred in Zagreb and their Dugave. Hence, because of their safety, Ivan returns back to Stuttgart with his mother and continues his education there.
Upon their arrival in Stuttgart, the family realized they could no longer live on two sides and did not want to be separated.
Ivan pressures his parents into coming back to Zagreb with his mother just before Christmas of 1991, and with all the war threats and dangers, life with sirens, alerts and escapes to shelters and many weekends spent in the basement of their house, Ivan grew up into a beautiful, smart and gifted boy, in love with life, people and riches of the human mind, world knowledge and human diversity.



Always joyful and smiling, in search of how to make others around him smile and happy, but also ready for learning new things, competitions revolving around knowledge and abilities, striving for the best, for excellence. He only accepted perfection, flawlessness and excellence. He loved and enjoyed praise from his parents of his best results and school acknowledgments. Mathematics and logic were his way of living and everything that wasn’t logical was difficult to accept, unless it had a sufficient dose and combination of romance, sympathy and empathy.
Since those earliest school days, the protection of the helpless, weak, endangered and those in need was his “Robin Hood mission” and often the cause of passionate discussions, even conflicts, with those who tried to show their strength, value and superiority against the smaller and weaker ones with him around.
He would proudly, sometimes with a hidden tear in his eyes, physically hurt, come back home and tell and justify himself to the parents saying the whole thing was justifiable and in fight for truth and justice.
Countless competitions in the fields of mathematics, physics, history and literature, excellent grades and praises from teachers and professors, marked the whole period of Ivan’s elementary school. Also, what was characteristic of him, were his unmatched mathematical methods of solving certain tasks and equations. As if the well prepared roads for new knowledge were not enough, sometimes even feeling defeated in search of new ways, he would always find strength and will to carry on and find the path to end and success.
Always among the best but also those who did not like to stay silent where there was a question of clear disagreement with injustice or untruth.
Curious, as a small explorer can be, he also took interest in politics and knew everything about automobiles. He admired the perfection of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bugattis, Rolls-Royces, Aston Martins and Porsches. He loved the weekends he would spend with his father at world automobile fairs in Geneva, Frankfurt and Paris as well as boat fairs in Hamburg and Düsseldorf. He was also impressed by world EXPO exhibitions his parents regularly took him to.



Great joy of his boyhood life was his Dora, his Bottom Shaker Dear Dorothy, female bobtail, he got as a gift for his ninth birthday and who was one of his favourite creatures and closest friends. They protected each other, waited, looked after, snuggled, encouraged and supported one another. How many times have they fallen asleep wrapped around each other on the family sofa or leather mat in front of the fireplace.
Oh, how he loved when they would all together, as a family, make Dora even prettier for dog competitions, and special joy for him was the title of the best in Europe and in the world. She was his great pride, and he was her leader and breadwinner. A faithful companion to and from school.



Ivan was also proud of his piano school, which he finished regardless of many disagreements with his teachers, and he was the most important and happiest person in the world when he would play Beethoven’s “For Elise”, his parent’s favourite composition, and see a tear of love, joy and pride in their eyes.
He liked good music, from Vivaldi to the Queen, Metallica, Eminem, Bijelo Dugme and Balašević.
The beauty and strength of his voice he would gladly share with his father and work colleagues with Bodulska balada, a song that he would often joyfully sing with them.
He loved and had utmost respect for his parents, doing everything to make them happy and comfortable. Ever since young age, from Stuttgart still, he hugged and kissed them repeatedly saying: “I love you to the sky. Where the airplanes fly.” With his immense love for them, for Ivana, but to.everyone around him as well, he always spread joy, happiness, smiles, optimism and disperse worry and concern. Turned to the better tomorrow, he believed that a man can control his destiny and future. 
The time of elementary school, especially higher grades, was characteristic of sports activities, practices and hockey, swimming, horseback riding, football, tennis and modern dancing competitions.
The mother, and sometimes the father, had a detailed driving schedule and just like taxi service drove the young, curious and determined sportsman and musician from one side to the other side of Zagreb. A boy and a youngster, hungry for knowledge, results and competition with himself, nature and previous accomplishments.



He liked the freedom his parents gave him to make his own decisions. He himself chose his high school – First Private Gymnasium at the Catherine Square in Zagreb because he liked the school’s education organization, relationships between professors and students as well as the subjects’ programs and topics.

Again, persistently through all four years, in all communication directions, with colleagues and professors, Ivan excelled with his young and charming attitude, with constant hunger for new knowledge and skills, but also unmatched fighting for students’ rights, their status and their right on their own opinions and attitude.
Growing up in such environment was filled with all kinds of youthful and parental experiences, people and family relationships, and tests of patience, understanding, love and camaraderie. All kinds of generation differences about thoughts on life and how to live it, comprehension of rights and obligations, meeting or not meeting expectations were a challenge which Ivan, despite his temper and firm character, with his parents, adjusted in a very short time with plenty of love, care and understanding.
There were big disagreements on wishes and rights for a sixteen-year-old boy, free from parental limitations, to drive a Vespa wherever and whenever he liked. Despite enormous love for Ivan, or maybe exactly because of it, parents deprived him of that youthful right and Ivan accepted that decision just like he should have – as an act of his parents showing immense love and care.
After that, the time of growing up came to a close, and a peaceful time began filled with happiness, harmony and joy.



That was certainly contributed by a fact when in third grade he met Ivana. Ivan’s love of his life. One and only, the biggest, eternal. Ivan’s school colleague, smart, beautiful, sharp, with brilliant results, caring, kind and intelligent girl who followed him ever since then. They were like one through all the years of their beautiful, rich, but unfortunately, too short of a life.
Since the moment they started dating, they couldn’t be apart, didn’t want to live, breathe without one another. Separating themselves due to traveling or college obligations was particularly hard on them.
They even went to college together in Vienna. Ivana enrolled at the Wirtschaft Universität, while Ivan chose, and in 2003, enrolled at the Webster University in Vienna, an American university. It was a new, positive transition in his life when, for the first time separated from his parents for a longer period of time, he could and should, despite Ivana being there, take care of himself and everyday obligations. It was a new kind of freedom of completely and independently creating his everyday life, but with responsibilities for completing and fulfilling his obligations, too.
Very soon, after getting familiar with the procedures and technologies of learning and passing exams, Ivan confidently and with ease accomplishes top results and acquires a position of a respectable and accredited student who can, and will help others to prepare for exams and sometime even write “a paper” for them.
With an open mind, free from any social, national or religious burdens and complexes, he always looked at those differences as the greatest wealth of the human race and sought for opportunities for cooperation and communication with everyone. He studied and worked with people from all over the world, practicing different religions and coming from various cultures.
At the Webster University, Ivan graduated and mastered on the subjects of human resources, and shorty after that, started on his PhD at the Cappella University in Los Angeles, much to his parent’s joy, especially his mother’s who herself obtained her PhD at the University of Zagreb on the topic of early childhood intervention with children with special needs.
Since the beginning of their love, every Ivan’s day, every dream, with or play has been Ivana’s as well, and vice versa. Every moment was connected with mutual interests and subjects. Again, this time with Ivana, he travelled the world, but now as a grown man and with some new interests like hotel management and gastronomy in renowned Michelin restaurants across Europe, the United States, Dubai and Shanghai.



On many of his travels around the world they would make numerous friends, especially in Vienna where they studied, graduated and obtained their Master’s Degrees and in the United States where, at Capella University in Los Angeles, Ivan started his PhD studies and was beloved for his honesty and wholeheartedness.
With his profound sense of humor, thoughtful life attitudes based on numerous experiences from all over the world, he was the centrepiece and a favourite character of his team.
Ratko, Boris, Bobi, Ante, Šarić, Jela, Lery and many more in Croatia, and Marija, Edy, Vitaly, Ayad, Mickey, Franzi from around the world, from Russia to the United States, created his just as he created their life. Connected with an invisible bond of true friendship, loyalty, trust and mutual belonging.



He always took great care of Ivana, never letting anyone hurt her. He loved her more than he loved himself, making her feel loved, happy and protected every single day.
The only one who could come close that love was their white snowflake, their Maltese Kimi. His pet, named after the great Formula 1 driver.
Kimi was Ivan’s and their eternal companion, even during his favourite golf tournaments. Ivan was a passionate golfer and loved playing golf at the best and most renowned golf clubs of the world, from Europe, the United States to Asia. He passionately collected golf balls, emblems and souvenirs from the fields where he played golf with Ivana.
He was a golf encyclopaedia of the past and the present. He knew all the best players, analysed their technique and studied their results. Aside his studies, he was into organizing and sales of exclusive, top-notch golf equipment from his American friend.
He even bought his father, who is left handed just like him, complete golf equipment, hoping he might join him and take pleasure in playing this great sport.



They also enjoyed traveling through Europe by the car, because ever since he was a child he had great passion for automobiles and sports driving. His father took him as a teenager to a training course to learn how to drive, and Ivan received his driving license on the day he turned 18. He was happy his family could afford nice sports cars. The pinnacle of pleasure were his trips with his father to the Car Club Exclusive in Vienna where he took test drives of the most prestigious automobiles in the world such as Ferrari California, Bugatti Veyron, Aston Martin DB9, Rolls-Royce Drophead. He knew everything about cars, technical characteristics, their performances and prices.




Although constantly traveling around the world, he was in everyday contact with his parents. Modern internet technology allowed for audio and video calls that were on daily basis, often several times a day. He loved his parents, endlessly, caringly and tenderly and was proud of their achievements, father’s in the food industry, and mother’s in her so human and demanding job of helping those endangered and most in need.
Skype, Viber, WhatsApp helped in everyday communication, exchange of information and nice wishes. Every written or spoken communication always ended with: “I love you to the sky. Where the airplanes fly.” Ivan’s parents enjoyed his immense kindness and thoughtfulness with a full heart.
They were the happiest people on earth.
Ivan and Ivana spent 16 years together, from the first walks around the Upper Town to the departure to their respective universities in Vienna and became everything to each other. They grew up together, inseparable, passionate and truly happy, living their life to the fullest, traveling the world and completing each other at the every moment.
Their beautiful and indestructible love was crowned with an intimate and romantic wedding on June 4th 2014, in Las Vegas.
For everybody who loved them, their parents, families and best friends, their unforgettable Croatian dream wedding and eternal YES was on October 4th 2014 in Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb.



Throughout the entire period of study in Vienna and doctorate in the United States, since 2003, by working at his father’s, but actually his own company, TIM ZIP, a renowned European company for transferring knowledge in the food industry focused on bakery and pastry, he polished the practice of all knowledge and insights acquired through his studies and travels.
He was proud of all the results he achieved with his father and exceptional co-workers. He noticed and adapted. Seeking excellence and perfection. He always stood his ground for the young and educated and demanded that they should be trusted and given the right to lead.

Many details from his father’s work implemented in TIM ZIP company he would use in his student and scientific works and vice-versa. By advising his father, he also tried implementing all his experiences from human resources into the company, obtained during his studies. He dreamed and planned to start a retail chain and production of European baking products, travelled with his father and arranged preparations in Wilmington, North Carolina, did market research and feasibility studies. Optimistic and confident, sure of success, he believed that he could change the world. For the better.



Also, during Ivan’s last business assignments in HAAS company in Austria and the United States, he was the initiator and driver of change for improving business. Praised and respected.
In search of new knowledge and work experience in a big, international company that he could not obtain in his small Croatian one, upon agreeing with his father, he started working at his father’s business partner and family friend, Josef – Pepi Haas, at the world-renowned company HAAS Food equipment, leader in developing technologies and equipment production for confectionary industry. After initial work in Leobendorf, Austria at the company headquarters and the main factory, it was decided to continue his work in HAAS factory in the United States.
Always ready for the utmost efforts to achieve better results and greater efficiency, strong-willed and full of energy, focused on excellence, Ivan leaves for Richmond, Virginia in July 2016. Optimistic and confident, he leaves with desire and faith that his work in HAAS company can bring additional value and better results.
He leaves expecting his love of his life, wife Ivana, to come to visit him in Richmond over the coming weeks, to spend their vacation together and start another life episode that would bring joy, happiness, and pride to themselves, their parents and everyone around them, an episode of creating and expanding this happy family.
All obligations to the society, all expectations and set goals were achieved and fulfilled. There was only one thing left, the most beautiful one. Children.
Everybody who loved Ivana and Ivan eagerly expected it to happen, especially the parents and their decision was the happiest news. All there was left was to wait…



And then, in a moment, all of a sudden, incomprehensible to the mind, destroying SOMETHING, like a flood, brought dread and horror, pain that cannot be described, emptiness and huge shock to everyone who loved him, mostly to his Ivana and broken-hearted parents. To those who saw him as the meaning of life, reason for existence, a motive to await new dawns.

After socializing and after-work dinner with the work colleagues from HAAS Company in Richmond, Virginia, on the night of July 24th 2016 a stroke takes the life of Ivan Bulić.



He will be missed by this, especially this kind of world, a man who happily gave, who would often leave a tear when the happiness of others was at stake, and who needed so little for it, and even less for his charming smile.
We will miss the prominent intellect, a student who would often “embarrass” his professors, and as plenty of his friends say, would very often be asked for advice.
Ivan’s mind, knowledge, indomitable optimism, nobility, love and compassion for everybody, gentleness and smile that tenderly glows will be greatly missed.

… and share some coins with the musicians who play
in the plains of heaven,…

… we love you to the sky, where the airplanes fly,
there we will meet again…