About Us

The Board of Directors and the Executive Committee, all volunteers, are committed to govern the Society by preserving, promoting, and protecting Slovenian family genealogy.

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Al Peterlin - Chairman Emeritus

My grandparents Jozef Peterlin and Rose Jerin came to Forest City, Pennsylvania in the early 1900s. He worked in the coal mines and died young. She lived a long and full life filled with the laughter of children and grandchildren. My interest in all things Slovenian grew from her stories, and I founded the Slovenian Genealogy Society in 1986. I've visited Slovenia several times, and I truly feel "at home" there although I do not speak even one word of Slovenian.

I joined the US Air Force as a young man, and received my education from them, a B.S. in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma. I obtained an MS in Climatology from Purdue University while working for the National Weather Service. I ended my government career by retiring as Chief Meteorologist for the United States Department of Agriculture in 1999. I retired from the USAF Reserves on January 3, 1995.

I now consult thru my own weather firm, ERREX, Inc and I am a partner in a climatology forecasting firm, Dynamic Predictables. You can hear me "on the air" each Tuesday morning on the Illinois Farm Bureau Radio Network. It may also be available on the internet. I also work full time as a "fundraising consultant" for non-profit organizations. While it might not seem possible, I enjoy genealogy, write poetry, and with my wife babysit for our three wonderful grandchildren.

Robert J. Kuhel - Board Treasurer

Robert J. Kuhel is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana and Loyola University of Chicago, Illinois. Bob is a seasoned professional having served as a chief financial officer at three Chicago non-profit hospitals, a Catholic system of eight hospitals, Executive Director of a Hospital/Physician Limited Partnership and is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator. His management services include physician groups, nursing homes, and other allied healthcare organizations. Bob’s experience and expertise includes contract negotiations, creative problem solving, new business development, and the ability to work as a dynamic team player.

Bob’s professional stewardship and volunteering includes: (10) years with the American Cancer Society, Lake County Chair and Illinois Division Boardmember; (26) years with Catholic Charities as a Lake County Board member and Finance Committee in the Archdiocese of Chicago; and (47) years as a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

Bob, an SGSI member since 2007,is also an active member in other Slovenian organizations including the Slovene National Benefit Society (SNPJ, Slovenian Union of America (SUA) and the Slovenian Heritage Museum in Joliet, IL.

Bob traveled to Slovenia in September, 2008 and 2013 as part of the membership group participating in SGSI conferences. Bob is a first generation American, and his father, Emil Kuhel, emigrated from Kostanjevica na Krki, Slovenia in 1920. His grandfather, John, emigrated in 1913. His family names of research include: Kuchel, Kuhelj, Sekula and Skal.
Education:Master of Science in Business Administration from University of Notre Dame and an undergraduate degree majoring in accouning from Loyola University of Chicago
Business:President and CEO, Gerotec Inc.
Interests:Genealogy, sporting events, and classic cars

John Kirn - Board Secretary

John Kirn is a graduate of Western Reserve University and Cleveland Marshall Law School of Cleveland State University. After graduation from Western Reserve, he joined the Peace Corps where he spent two years living in the interior of Brazil. He returned home and went to law school. His legal career was spent in corporate law. He retired from Oglebay Norton Company where he served as senior counsel and assistant secretary of the corporation. After retirement he began volunteering with the Legal aid Society of Cleveland and the Business Advisors of Cleveland, a non-profit organization of executives and entrepreneurs who give free advise to people on how to start a business.

John was interested in learning more of his Slovenian family history and joined SGSI in 2002. Since joining the Society, he has gathered much information and insight into genealogy research and greatly benefited from the 2008 Genealogy Conference to Slovenia. John is also active in the Ohio SGSI Chapter serving on the Oral History Committee.

  • Graduate of Western Reserve University
  • Cleveland Marshall Law School of Cleveland State University

Michael Zakrajsek - Membership Chairperson

I was born May 18, 1942 in Indianapolis, IN. My father was first generation American, his parents emigrating from Slovenia in early 1912. My mother was of German and Welsh/Irish extraction. I left Indy in 1963, to escape the cold weather, and after several months of traveling in the southwest US, I enlisted in the Navy in Phoenix AZ. I spent the next 23+ years in the Navy, serving in various Telecommunications, Special Warfare and Intelligence billets. In March, 1967 I married Peggy, my first serious girlfriend, and now, my wife of 47 years. I retired from the Navy in 1987 with the rank of Lt. Commander.

I returned to Phoenix and worked in various public safety telecommunications positions, retiring again in 2002 as the Fire Department Telecommunications Superintendent. For the next five years I provided consulting services to Police, Fire and EMS agencies in the southwest US, working out of Oxnard, CA.

In 2007, I finally retired completely. Peggy and I moved to southwest Florida where we are now year-round residents (except when a hurricane is coming). We have two sons, one in Phoenix and one in San Diego, and three grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and a five year old great granddaughter. We have visited Slovenia several trips to Slovenia, including a five week trip in 2012.

Retired: Naval Officer and Telecommunications Superintendent.
Business: Owned and operated a public safety telecommunications busines in the Southwest for five years.
Interests: Genealogy, Traveling

Sedaj L. Tesch - Newsletter Editor

Sedaj Tesch joined the Slovenian Genealogy Society International, Inc. in 1996, with the hopes of connecting with other like-minded genealogists. In 2004, she began volunteering her time as editor of the newsletter. Sedaj was born in Red Lodge, Montana in 1958. The oldest of six brothers and sisters, Sedaj was captivated by her Slovene heritage at an early age. Her family left the area of Ribnica, Dolenja vas, Gorenja vas, and Idrija from 1903 through 1909, emigrating to America to work in the Montana coal mines. Her family names of research include: Mavric (Mourich), Sedej, Petek, Zobec, and Subic.

Sedaj continues in her genealogy research of her Slovene roots in hopes to not only preserve family history, but to keep it alive for future generations. Her current interests include creating a three generational family tree using a multi-media format. Sedaj lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, children, and grandchildren where she finds her richest fulfillment.

The SGSI Newsletter Editor produces and publishes the Linden Tree on a quarterly basis. The main duties of the newsletter editor include; identifying content, soliciting articles for future editions, layout, design and writing/ co-writing of member stories submitted for publication. Sedaj also volunteers her time as a moderator for the society website.

Education: University of Phoenix; Business
Work History:
  • Museum Registrar/Collections Management- 8 yrs.
  • Graphic Arts and Newsletter Editor- 12 yrs.;
  • Office Manager, CMC Interconnect Technologies
Current Interests: Genealogy, graphic arts, web design, history, traveling, photography, and yoga

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