"Polka Pete" Barbarich passed away at his home in Indianapolis on Tuesday, March 20th. Pete was born in Indianapolis on July 18, 1925 to Martin and Jozefa (Avbar) Barborič, and was a west-side resident all of his life. He is survived by his wife Mary of 64 years, children Rosalie (Marc) Hetzner, Marty Barbarich, Paul (Susie) Barbarich, and Teresa Brouhard, nine grandchildren, one great grandchild, and numerous nieces and nephews. Pete was pre-deceased by his brothers, Martin, Stanley, Willie, and twin brother Paul. Pete was a devoted husband, a model father, a faithful Catholic, and a genuine and loyal friend to all.
Born of immigrant Slovenian parents, Pete was active all his life in the Slovenian community in Indianapolis having lived the first half of his life in Haughville on the near west-side. He was a life-time member at Holy Trinity parish where he and Mary were married in 1953. The Barbarich children all attended Holy Trinity grade school, and despite moving out of the neighborhood, Pete and Mary continued to attend and support Holy Trinity until it closed in November of 2014. Pete was also a proud lodge member of St. Aloysius KSKJ Lodge #52 of the American Slovenian Catholic Union. For years, Pete bowled in the Tuesday night St. Al's bowling league and participated in yearly national tournaments. Pete will also be remembered by many during KSKJ basketball tourneys, providing spirited fight songs in the stands with his accordion. Pete was a shareholder in the Slovenian National Home and was keenly interested in its continued success, always donating in one way or another, and asking for the latest news from "the Nash". Pete was a graduate of Arsenal Technical High School and worked at (Detroit Diesel) Allison for 36 years, retiring in 1985. The Barbarich family relocated to Avon in later years, and eventually Pete and Mary settled at Heritage Lake in Putnam County.
In his twenties, Pete started to teach himself to play the accordion. Eventually, and with countless hours of practice, Pete mastered the instrument, learning hundreds of polkas, waltzes, and other favorite songs. The times were simpler and he often played on Saturday nights in neighborhood taverns, the Slovenian National Home, or the Holy Trinity school gym for local dances, weddings, and family celebrations. In the early 50's, Pete joined forces with other neighborhood talent and created the "Haughville Slickers" band. The "Slickers' were legendary in Haughville history, bringing entertainment to pivotal moments in the lives of many friends and neighbors. Pete kept practicing and kept playing his accordion after the "Slickers" disbanded, playing also with Gus Zupančič and "The Polka Dots" band, and bringing joy to many in to the early 1970's. Even when the days with the bands were over and with the advance of age, Pete shared his musical talents with his family and friends. As late as last fall, Pete played a round of polkas at his grandson's wedding at the age of 92.
The family wants to extend heartfelt gratitude to the caring staff at Crestwood Village West. Throughout his battles and especially during his final weeks, the Crestwood Village staff showed unbelievable and compassionate support of Pete and his family, during his most difficult moments.