Zdenka Novak, 86, of Rockton, IL passed peacefully at 4:49 p.m., Wednesday, June 20, 2018 in her home.\r\n\r\nBorn on July 15, 1931 in Prague Czech Republic, the daughter of Vaclav and Albina Smrcina. Zdenka grew up during World War II in Czecholsovakia. After the war she was a member of the Czech resistance against communism and was captured and put in prison where she managed to escape and courageously crossed the Czech border where she reported at a police station in Mehring, Germany, and was sent to Valka Lager refugee camp. She was not there long before she was approached by the American government with a job offer. She moved to Oberursel near Frankfurt to work and it was there, in 1953, that she married her husband Frantisek (Frank) (also a Czech émigré whom she had met at Valka Lager). At the end of 1953, the couple moved to the United States. They settled in New York City. Zdenka first worked as an office hand at an import/export company but soon became a clerk at an insurance firm. She had many Czech friends in the city and she enjoyed socializing at Sokol New York in particular. In 1956, she moved to Beloit, Wisconsin, when her husband gained a job as a mechanical designer at Beloit Corporation – a factory producing papermaking machines. There, Zdenka and Frank started raising their two children before moving to neighboring Rockton, Illinois. While her children were growing up, Zdenka ran their own landscaping business. She has traveled to the Czech Republic with her children and grandchildren and says she tries to impress the value of her Czech heritage upon them. \r\nZdenka was an avid gardener and loved to bake and cook. \r\n\r\nShe was a member of the Rockton Green Thumbers for many years. \r\n\r\nAfter her husband Frantisek retired, they spent much time in their summer home in Glidden, Wisconsin on Lake Augustine, where she loved to fish, mushroom hunt, enjoy nature and meet with her good “Northwood” friends in the Glidden area. She also enjoyed travelling to different parts of the world and was able to spend some winters in Wellington, Florida with Reno, Julie and Nick and made visits to Frank and his family in Raleigh, North Carolina. She also liked to spend time visiting her sister Eva and her husband who live in Beloit, Wisconsin. She was blessed by great neighbors who helped her as she got older. She had an optimistic and vibrant personality and just had a natural way to make people feel better. \r\n\r\nZdenka is survived by her sons Frank (Anita) Novak and Reno (Julie) Novak; sister Eva (Lada) Zelenka; niece Andrea (Aaron) Cass; grandchildren Nicholas Novak, Samantha Novak, Erica (Matt) Zimolzak, Justin (Kari) Severson; cousins Wilhelm Brada, Neomi (Frank) Kousa, Dagmar (Peter) Janda and Milan Cisar and 3 great grandchildren Connor, Kara and Ethan.\r\n\r\nA Celebration of Life for family and close friends will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday, July 14, 2018 at Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, IL. McCorkle Funeral Home – Rockton Chapel, 767 N. Blackhawk Blvd., Rockton, IL assisted the family.\r\n\r\nA memorial is being established.