VLCHEK, FRANK J. (4 Jan. 1871-10 June 1947) industrialist, master tool maker, and author, was born in Budyn, Bohemia, the son of John and Anna Hladek Vlchek. One of 8 children, Frank was an apprentice blacksmith at age 12 and later learned to produce fine surgical instruments in Stryra, Austria. In 1889 he came to Cleveland and worked as a blacksmith, opening his own shop in 1895. Beginning with 6 employees, he organized the VLCHEK TOOL COMPANY, which was incorporated in 1909. It became one of the largest automobile tool manufacturing concerns in the country.

As a successful industrialist and community leader, Vlchek served as a link between the immigrants in Cleveland's Czech Community and their native country through his writings. His first book, Povidko Meho Zivota: Historie Americkeho Cecha, which told of his early life and struggles as an immigrant in America, was popular in Czechoslovakia and went through 3 printings. His volume of poems Cesky Vystehovalec (Czech Emigrant) and Nas Lid v Americe (Our People in America) also dealt with the difficulties of life in a new country. In addition, he wrote Prace a Odmena (Labor and Reward) which discussed his experience as a factory owner and the industrial creed he formulated. In 1937, the Czech government decorated him for his cultural contributions to his people in Cleveland, and in 1947 Pope Pius XI recognized his contributions to the Catholic Church.

Vlchek married Mary Birhanzl 3 July 1893. They had 3 children, sons Henry F. and Valerian Frank, and a daughter Mary (Mrs. Edwin C. Koster). A resident of Shaker Heights, Vlchek died at age 76 and was buried in CALVARY CEMETERY.

Vlchek, Frank. Povidko Meho Zivota: Historie Americkeho Cecha (1928).

Frank Vlchek Papers, WRHS.

Article Categories