Tito's widow, First Lady of Yugoslavia, dies aged 88

Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:41am EDT
 
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BELGRADE (Reuters) - Jovanka Broz, who spent three decades as Yugoslavia's First Lady but was left stateless and forgotten as war shattered the socialist federation built by her husband 'Tito', died on Sunday in a Belgrade hospital.

State television RTS said Broz had died of cardiac arrest.

She was 88 and had lived largely in isolation since the death of Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito in 1980, squirreled away in a crumbling state-owned villa in the Serbian capital without a passport or ID.

Born in Croatia, Broz became a nurse with Tito's Partisan fighters in World War Two, then his personal secretary and finally his third wife in 1952.

Tito was 32 years her senior, and presided over a federation of 22 million people balanced between Cold War East and West.

Unlike the grey, staid Communist leaders of the Soviet bloc, Tito and his wife reveled in ostentation and glamour.

Dead three days short of his 88th birthday, Tito's funeral gathered heads of state and dignitaries from across the Cold War divide, including Britain's Margaret Thatcher and ailing Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev.

His wife had already been removed from the public eye in the late 1970s, as the party elite had grown increasingly suspicious of her influence over the elderly president.

Soon after Tito's funeral, authorities confiscated all property and personal belongings of the couple and placed Broz under virtual house arrest in a dilapidated government-owned villa in Belgrade's hilltop Dedinje district.   Continued...

 
Jovanka Broz, the widow of late former Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito, lays a wreath at his tomb in a memorial centre in Belgrade in this May 4, 1995 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer/Files