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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CZECH CATHOLIC UNION

CZECH CATHOLIC UNION

The CZECH CATHOLIC UNION is a national fraternal benefit society with its national headquarters located in Cleveland at 5349 Dolloff Rd. Organized in 1879 in Cleveland's St. Wenceslaus parish by Rev. Anthony Hynek, the union developed from that parish's St. Anne's Society, organized in 1867, and was known originally as the Bohemian Roman Catholic Central Union of Women. The union's first 2 branches were St. Anne's in Cleveland and St. Ludmilla's in New York. Both lodges had religious, charitable, and cultural purposes. In the early years, members of the benefit society agreed to pay $.25 each upon the death of a member. In 1881 the society had 629 members, and its death benefit was increased from $100 to $150. Improvements in financial management came about largely at the insistence of the State of Ohio, which in 1934 ordered the union to become 100% solvent. Soon thereafter the union merged with the Czech Catholic Cleveland Union of Men and the Czech Catholic Cleveland Union of Women; by 1939 the Bohemian Roman Catholic Central Union of Women had become known as the Czech Catholic Union. Marie L. Kral, the society's long-time president, guided the union through this period of reorganization. Located for many years in the Atlas Bldg. at 5644 Broadway, by 1960 the organization had moved to its own building on Dolloff Rd. By 1993 the Czech Catholic Union had 5,000 members across the country, with 1,824 members in 5 lodges in Ohio. It had 24 lodges nationally, assets of more than $6.6 million, and more than $9.3 million of life insurance in force in 4,039 policies. It continues to support religious institutions and cultural, charitable, and educational efforts.