|Birth: ||Sep. 26, 1916|
|Death: ||Nov. 23, 2002|
Wife of Nick Bakarich (1914-1980). Daughter of Frank Drozdowicz and Victoria (Scibor) Drozdowicz.
Obituary: Sacramento Bee, The (CA) - November 28, 2002
Deceased Name: Josephine Bakarich , 86, star of cardroom culture
During Sacramento's golden era of cardroom gambling, one of its brightest and longest-shining stars was Josephine Bakarich.
Born and raised on a Wisconsin dairy farm, Mrs. Bakarich came to Sacramento with three friends to help open a meatpacking plant. She found her place in the cardroom culture, and stayed to raise a family, which included a son who became a Superior Court judge. Mrs. Bakarich died Saturday at Sutter General Hospital of kidney failure. She was 86. The city's cardroom culture peaked in the late 1950s, when Sacramento boasted no fewer than 26 establishments. It was an era when free spirits who liked to gamble didn't have much in the way of options, especially in the winter, when roads to Reno and Lake Tahoe couldn't always be relied on.
The advent of American Indian casinos and big-time marketing for Reno and Lake Tahoe spelled the end. Today, Sacramento has only three card clubs. During the cardrooms' peak years, and later during the leaner years until she retired in 1986, "Jo" Bakarich was one of the premier cocktail waitresses at one of the premier rooms.
She was born in 1916 outside Lake Geneva, Wis., to Frank and Victoria Drozdowicz. She left for Chicago after high school to work in the meatpacking houses there. In 1938, she and her cousin Helen Poschert and friends Emily Rolison and Ann Tavera-Gallick were sent by train by Purita Meat Packing Co. to Sacramento to help open a plant here. The four used to frequent Friday night dances at the Bellview Ballroom on K Street. Each met their future husband there.
Josephine's was Nick Bakarich, a delivery truck driver. They met in 1939 and were married in October 1940. He was in the Merchant Marine through 1945, and she continued at the meat plant. After the war, both went to work for Butch Nisetich at his Equipoise (named after a racehorse - the top horses were big stars then), a combination restaurant, bar, cardroom and, upstairs, one of the city's busiest bookmaking operations, at 415 K St. "When I was a little kid, the Equipoise was The Place," recalled their son, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gerald Bakarich. "Everyone came there. You could get a steak dinner for 50 cents and a huge breakfast for 25 cents." Mrs. Bakarich was a waitress in the cardroom, and her husband was a waiter and bouncer. A certain glamour, combined with cards and action, bred big, tough guys. And some of them had big hearts. "When I was a boy I had polio," said Judge Bakarich, who was a police officer and a deputy district attorney before becoming a judge. "I was stuck in County Hospital because my parents didn't have any money. "When Butch Nisetich asked why he didn't see me around the Equipoise after a while, my parents told him. He had me taken from County to Mercy Hospital and he picked up the whole tab."
The Bakarichs worked at Equipose through the 1940s and 50s. Nick went to work for the city at the end of the 1950s, but Mrs. Bukarich stayed on when the business moved to Seventh and L streets. When Equipoise closed in the early 1970s, one of the partners, Pete Mikacich, opened the Limelight cardroom at Alhambra Boulevard and J Street, and Mrs. Bakarich came with him. "Everyone loved cards and cardrooms in those years," Mikacich said Wednesday.
Places such as Equipoise, Georgian's, Joe's Club and the Gold Nugget were always busy. "Josephine was one of the premier cocktail waitresses. Everybody knew her and she knew everyone's name. Her greatest charm was she never came to work without a smile. I jumped at the opportunity to hire her." Mrs. Bakarich worked at the Limelight until her retirement in 1986, six years after the death of her husband. In her later years, Mrs. Bakarich had, literally, busloads of friends. A big fan of seven-card stud, she and her friends rode to Reno and Lake Tahoe three or four times a month. Her funeral Mass was Wednesday at Holy Spirit Church.
Frank Drozdowicz (1879 - 1940)
Victoria Scibor Drozdowicz (1886 - 1976)
Frank Michael Bakarich (1943 - 2009)*
Mary Drozdowicz Jacobsen (1913 - 1949)*
Josephine Drozdowicz Bakarich (1916 - 2002)
Helen M. Drozdowicz Schmitz (1919 - 2004)*
Jean Frances Drozdowicz Jacobsen (1925 - 2014)*
Edward F. Drozdowicz (1927 - 2006)*
Created by: Calcat
Record added: Dec 06, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 101793275