Logan, aged six, and Luka, a toddler, lost their dad in December 2019. A year later, his colleagues came up with an inventive way for the kids to remember him.
Laza Katanic, formerly a pilot with United Airlines, was on his way to his family home in Laguna Hills, California, when he got into an unexpected car accident. Unfortunately, the father of two sons, aged 39, did not make it. He passed away in December 2019, leaving behind his wife Bernadette Terzich-Katanic and sons Logan, aged six, and Luka, a toddler. A year later, the pilot's coworkers at United Airlines decided to do something special for his children to have something to remember their father by. The colleagues collected his old uniforms and stitched together teddy bears out of them to gift to the children, Fox News reports.
"I had no idea," grieving widow Terzich-Katanic said in an interview with the news outlet earlier this week. "It was a surprise. It was honestly the most heartful, thoughtful gift we’ve ever received." According to her, the two children absolutely adore the gift. She shared, "They love it. They snuggle it and they sniff it. They’re definitely a source of comfort in knowing how loved he was." Her sons call the gifts "Tata bears." "Tata" is the name Logan gave to his stepfather before his death. The bears have become a way for the young boys to stay connected to their father. Katanic's colleagues created the teddy bears by using pieces of his old shirts, vests, and jackets. The bears feature logos of both United and Continental Airlines, where the children's father worked. In addition to this, each bear has a pocket that holds a photo of their dad. To help her sons remember their father, Terzich-Katanic sprayed the teddy bears with Katanic's cologne.
According to United Airlines, Katanic was employed as a ramp service agent from the year 2017 to the day he passed. He was stationed out of John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. Since his passing, his colleagues have installed a plaque in the break room, among many other gestures performed in his memory. Clemence Farraj, a United Airlines employee, said in an interview, "Laza was an incredible, amazing man. He was very warm and caring. He came in and everybody embraced him. They just loved him." United Airlines even transferred Katanic’s body back to Ohio, where he was laid to rest.
The family is currently relying on their faith to get them through these difficult times. As per Terzich-Katanic, the employees at United Airlines have also helped. They are like family. "Laza loved his job, he loved his coworkers," she explained. "He said it was the first time ever that he really enjoyed going to work and it was because of the people and I didn’t understand that until after he passed. He had a lot of life to give. We just miss him."