This year marks eight and a half decades since the death of John Frothingham (1879-1935), an American lawyer, industrialist and philanthropist, one of the greatest benefactors in the history of Serbs during the First World War and in the post-war period. He set aside over 250 million dinars for the establishment of war hospitals, the establishment of orphanages and craft schools in Serbia and today’s Macedonia, and numerous other humanitarian donations, which is money worth several state budgets of our country at the time. Due to that, he became one of the most decorated personalities in the history of Serbia. This humanitarian was married to Jelena Lozanić.
He was born in Brooklyn, in a rich and respectable New York family. He graduated in French, played the piano, and composed. He perfected his musical knowledge in Vienna, Munich, and Prague. Even before the First World War, Frothingham became interested in Balkan music through Serbian immigrant societies in the United States. Welcoming the beginning of the Great War in America, surprised by the suffering of Serbia, he looked for a way to help the country, donating medical material and money on several occasions.
He first donated ten thousand dollars, and in November 1914 he sent the entire hospital to Belgrade, with 250 beds, modern equipment, and a staff of ten American doctors and assistants. Parts of that hospital, whose total value was around 200,000 dollars at the time, were sent to Niš, Skopje and Gevgelija, playing a significant role in the treatment of typhus when, along with our soldiers, American doctors also died.
When Jelena Lozanić (1885–1972), as a representative of the Red Cross of the Kingdom of Serbia, arrived in the USA on a mission to help her homeland in 1915, Frothingham met her, and through her, Mihajlo Pupin and Nikolaj Velimirović. That is when the joint work of John Frothingham and Jelena Lozanić on helping Serbia began. The two of them will get married in 1921 in a Russian church in New York, they will have a daughter Ana, and then they will move to France.
In that period, from the end of the First World War until John’s death, the Lozanić-Frothingham family helped Serbia all the time. Due to the modesty of the American donor, but also incomplete data, it is difficult to list all the charities. Among the most famous donations are those for the establishment of American homes for abandoned war orphans in Sremska Kamenica, Vranje and Skopje.
At the request of Frothingham, the wards of these homes had exceptional conditions at the time – dishes and bedding were bought for them in Czechoslovakia, and each ward had a closet, suits and tie at his disposal. Also, in Vranje, Frothingham donated money for the establishment of a football club together with the stadium, which was once called “America”.
The American benefactor also opened the first craft schools in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, whose way of working was later taken over by the state government, and it is believed that he contributed to Carnegie’s endowment for international peace helping build the University Library in Belgrade.
John Frothingham also participated in the work of the American-Serbian Society, and for his merits, he was awarded the Karađorđev Star and the Order of the White Eagle of the second and third degrees. He died in 1935 and was buried in the cemetery in Biarritz, France. Today, the streets named after him in Belgrade and Sremska Kamenica keep the memory of him.