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The Tesla Memorial Society
21 Maddaket, Southwyck Village
Scotch Plains, New Jersey 07076
William H. Terbo
Executive Secretary
  Maria Godfors
Nikola Tesla: 1856 - 1943



A bronze bust of Nikola Tesla was dedicated in the forecourt of Manhattan’s St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 13-15 West 25th Street, on Sunday, January 28, 2007. The bust was donated by an international group of four individuals with Serbian ethnic ties and an appreciation for the personality and accomplishments of the great American inventor of Serbian ethnicity, Nikola Tesla, Father of Alternating Current and foremost contributor to the technology of modern radio.

William Terbo with Tesla Bust
William Terbo with Tesla Bust

The bust is mounted on a five-foot black marble pedestal. The image depicts Tesla in his late 50’s, hair parted in the center and looking slightly to his left showing both face and profile. His shoulders are visible revealing the cut of his dinner jacket, wing-tip collar and full tie, the formal manner of dress for which he was so famous. Sculptor, Ms. Marina Zivic of Belgrade, created the bust in her studio and had it cast in Serbia


Marina Zivic (sculptor), William Terbo, Mirjana Sovilj, Svetlana Djokovic, Maria Wera Cedrelt

The 150th Anniversary of the birth of Nikola Tesla, 2006, has been celebrated throughout the world with special emphasis in Serbia where 150 events were organized to commemorate his Serbian ethnicity. Delivery of this bust is a part of that yearlong recognition of the great scientist. Nikola Tesla lived the greatest part of his life in Manhattan and created the bulk of his legacy in Manhattan. The bust represents the first image of Tesla in Manhattan that can be viewed from a place accessible to the general public.

January 27 is a particularly important date on the Serbian Orthodox calendar. St. Sava is the leading Serbian Orthodox Saint and the name-patron of the Cathedral. The Services of the 28th specifically honored St. Sava. The Tesla bust dedication ceremony was conducted immediately following the Cathedral services.

Cathedral Dean, the Very Reverend Father Djokan Majstorovic, opened the ceremony performing the blessing of the bust. Short remarks were made by donators Ms. Mirjana Sovilj, PhD, Director of The Institute for Experimental Phonetics and Speech Pathology, Belgrade; Ms. Maria Wera Cedrell, Attorney and Producer for World Television Network, Stockholm; and, Ms. Svetlana Djokovic, General Manager of Academy of Arts “BK”, Belgrade. (Ms. Elizabeth Karadjordjevic, Princess Elizabeth Foundation, New York, was traveling and unable to attend.) Bust sculptor, Ms. Marina Zivic, was introduced and the ceremony concluded with remarks by Church President, Mr. Nenad Milinkovic. Among those attending the ceremony was Mr. William H. Terbo, closest living relative of Nikola Tesla.


Mirjana Sovilj, William Terbo, Maria Wera Cedrell, Svetlana Djokovic

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was born in the Military Frontier Province of Austria to a Serbian Orthodox priest, Rev. Milutin Tesla, and his wife, Djuka. His birthplace later became part of Yugoslavia and is now in the Republic of Croatia. Technically educated and showing great promise in his early professional career, Tesla came to America in 1884 where he soon filed the basic patents that describe the entire system of AC power generation, transmission and utilization. The AC electrification of Niagara Falls in 1896 (with George Westinghouse) is one of his most notable accomplishments. By 1900 Nikola Tesla was one of the world’s most famous personalities. He was granted over 200 U.S. patents (and more than 200 foreign patents) that covered the basics of radio, robotics, high-frequency electronics and basic contributions to computer technology.

St. Sava Cathedral, a Manhattan institution, has had a continuous relationship with Nikola Tesla and recognizes his date of birth each July. The Cathedral was built in 1855 as the Chapel of the famous Trinity Episcopal Church in lower Manhattan. It was deeded to the Serbian Orthodox congregation in early 1943. Tesla passed on January 7th, 1943, ironically, Christmas on the Christian Orthodox calendar, and is registered as the fifth entry on the St. Sava Cathedral Record of Deaths.

Tesla was accorded a State Funeral at Manhattan’s Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Devine on January 12th. St. John the Devine at West 112th Street, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, accommodated the more than 2,000 who attended. The funeral service opened with Episcopal Bishop William T. Manning and concluded with St. Sava Cathedral priest, Prota Dusan J. Sukletovic (Very Reverend Dushan J. Shukletovich.)

The 50th Anniversary of Nikola Tesla’s passing was held at St. Sava Cathedral on January 16, 1993. The Church ceremony included the full Orthodox Requiem with eulogies by four area Serbian Orthodox priests. The Tesla Memorial Society, Inc. sponsored the Church ceremony and following reception with donations defraying all expenses.

A matching black marble pedestal (also designed by congregation member, Mr. Branko Zec) has been erected in the Cathedral forecourt a few feet from the Tesla pedestal. The bust of Michael Pupin (1854-1935) is to be placed there to honor the second great American scientist of Serbian ethnicity. Pupin was the inventor of the Telephone Induction Coil that enabled long distance telephony and the founder of the Columbia University School of Electrical Engineering. The Pupin bust is currently located in a niche in the side of the Cathedral facing the church rectory. The considerable extra cost of the construction and dedication of the two bust presentations is to be met through an appeal for private contributions.

Click here to see  a transcript of William Terbo's statement at the event.

William H. Terbo, Executive Secretary TMSam2 070226

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