Edward (Peash) Joseph Versich, 91- of lifetime resident of Kelly Lake- went to be with the Lord on Memorial Day- May 31, 2021.
He was born on August 31, 1929, to Andrew and Helen Versich. He grew up attending Leetonia schools, and became an altar boy serving parishes in both Carson Lake and Leetonia. The nickname “Peash” was given to him as a child by his uncle and grandfather and it stuck! Some family say the name Peash meant, “small” or “little.” He claimed he was 5’7 at one point in his life and he was proud of that!
He graduated from Hibbing High School in 1947- Shortly after high school, Peash began working at Mesaba Motors in Hibbing. During this time, he realized his love and talent for the automobile. He later worked for Clusiau Motors. He spoke fondly of his early days working around cars and loving cars. He later said he became crazy for cars, thus fueling his passion for recreating their original beauty after an accident.
In 1951- He was drafted into the army and began basic training in Aberdeen, Maryland. He later went to Atlanta, Georgia where to he began to learn his lifetime craft of body work. Later he enrolled in ordinance school in California for one month before shipping out to Anchorage, Alaska and served 18 months. He was honorably discharged in 1953.
Upon arriving home from Alaska, Peash accepted a job at Keewatin Motor service, Bruno's Auto and back to Clusiau's. He continued to hone his craft as a body and fender man, becoming one of the best and later opening his own business- West Howard Body Shop in Hibbing.
He married Carol Jean (West) Versich in July of 1956, and together they raised five children. In 1963- they purchased the Crooked Lake cabin, and he spent many happy years there celebrating family get togethers, parties, and the yearly epic 4th of July party. The Crooked Lake cabin also was his place of solitude, peace and great fishing. Peash also enjoyed his pontoon rides with family and friends. He was a long-time member of St Ann’s Catholic Church in Kelly Lake until it closed in the 90’s.
He was a lover of music- including polkas, oldies, Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow. He spent many nights kicking up his heels to the polkas at the Slovenian Home in Chisholm.
Peash was beloved by many and has been described as a “legend.” He was larger than life and would light up every room he walked into- everyone wanted to hug and kiss him. He loved his family more than anything, and family was the most important thing in his life. He always talked about how happy he was that he was able to have five children, and how blessed he was to have his kids and grandkids so to close to him!
Peash's favorite past time was hockey. His love of the game began as he was serving in Alaska, where he played goalie for the Army team. He became a coach and in 1974, his team won Hibbing Pee Wee city tournament championship. It was a David vs Goliath game, and he said in later years that winning that championship was “one of the greatest moments of his life!” All of Coach Peash’s players have fond memories of him pacing behind the bench and spitting his snuff on the floor! He was an avid high school hockey fan, never missing the state tournament as a season ticket holder through the Minnesota State High School League since the 70’s. He was thrilled to watch two of his grandsons participate in the state high school hockey tournament. Peash was a sports fan~ and said he didn't even mind, watching golf!
Peash was a regular at all of his grandchildren's sporting activities. He was a true Italian and Croatian in the sense that he kissed, hugged and always told everyone how much he loved them- even upon first meeting them! One of his family members recently said- “Peash always told me how beautiful I was and I loved that, even if he said that to everyone!” He was an angel here on earth.
He was blessed to meet his best friend- Joseph (Punky) Polich when they were just kids. They both grew up in Leetonia blocks from each other. They later married sisters and raised their families two doors away in Kelly Lake! Even in Peash’s final days, Punky would walk over for coffee and they would laugh and reminisce about the "old times". That 75 year friendship sustained him over the years and brought so much joy to him!
We are hoping that all of his beloved friends and family will join us for the “ultimate happy hour.” Since Peash never missed his 5pm Windsor or his cigars, please take a moment to think of him and join in if you’d like! We know there is a big celebration in heaven with all those who have passed before him.
Peash was proceeded in death by his parents, Helen and Andrew Versich. He is survived by his five children: Vickie (Marty) Trenberth, Tina (John) Hanegmon, Edward Versich Jr, Christine (Tim) Ranta and Melissa Ann Versich; 9 grandchildren- Tony (Jenna) Trenberth, Casey Trenberth, Michael (Sibley) Hanegmon, Ryan Hanegmon, Jessica (Nick) Cimermancic, Christiano Versich, Nicolas Versich, Mathew Versich and Timmy Ranta; 4 great- grandchildren- Aubrey, Mara, Louie and Luka; siblings Andrew(Betty) Versich and Rose Marsh; and many nieces and nephews.
Special thanks go out to Fairview Hospice and the staff at Heritage Manor in Hibbing. You are all appreciated. Memorials can be made to The Salvation Army, The Tourist Center Senior Citizens, Range Regional Animal Rescue, or Fairview Hospice.
Visitation will be from 10 a.m until the 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, June 5, 2021 in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Chisholm, MN. Military Honors will be accorded by the Iron Range Honor Guard. Burial will be in the Maple Hill Cemetery, Hibbing.
To send flowers to Edward's family, please visit our floral store.