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MARDOS Memorial Library Collection.
Czechs Who Have Achieved Various Noteworthy Careers
Dr. Olga Sadilek-Stastny, the first and thus far only Czech woman physician in Nebraska, is the daughter of well-known pioneers of Wilber, Frank J. and Theresa Jurka Sadilek. She was born there September 13, 1878, and graduated from the Wilber High School in June, 1895. On Oct. 25, 1895, she married Dr. Charles Stastny. Of this marriage were born a daughter Elsa (Mrs. Lad. Skocdopole of Crete), and a son Robert, who met death in an airplane accident on July 2, 1921, while visiting his mother in Prague, Czechoslovakia. After her husband's death (1906), Dr. Stastny began to study medicine and in 1913 graduated from the College of Medicine, University of Nebraska. During 1913 and part of 1914 she took a post-graduate course in Boston, as House Physician of the New England Hospital for Women and Children and began to practice in Omaha, July 1, 1914. During the World War (1917) she organized a tag day for the Franco-Serbian Relief Hospital, when $10,000 was collected for that purpose. In that year she organized a department of Americanization of the Woman's Division of the State Council of Defense. Her Five Minute speech on Americanization was accepted by the National Council of Defense and sent to other states as a model. She also was active in Bohemian National Alliance work. In November, 1918, she organized a tag day for the benefit of the American Women's Hospitals serving in France, when $5,000 was collected, enough to establish one dispensary. In December, 1918, she sailed to join Unit No. 1 of the above mentioned hospital at Luzancy, France, for reconstruction work, 15 kilometers south and east of Chateau Thierry. On July 2, 1919, she left for Czechoslovakia, at the request of Dr. Alice Masaryk, daughter of the president of that country, to teach medical social service and hygiene in the Social Service Training School organized by Dr. Masaryk, with the help of the American Young Women's Christian Association. She made a survey of the nursing situation in Prague, and as a result the American Red Cross organized a training school for nurses under the direction of the American trained workers. She established a baby clinic and feeding station in Praha VII, one of the poor sections of the city and used it as a teaching center for her students. In October, 1919, she was transferred to the Young Men's Christian Association, where she was given full charge of the Health Department and did much good work in that direction, so that it spread to civilian classes all over the country. This work was constructive, recent reports showing that it is being carried on in many places. In December, 1921, Dr. Stastny returned to Omaha on sick leave and in September, 1922, returned again to Europe, planning a course of post-graduate work in Prague and Berlin, but a few months later was called to Athens, Greece, by the American Women's Hospitals and sent to Smyrna, to work among the deported Christians from Turkey and Asia Minor. She was made Director of the Quarantine Station on Macronissi Island, through which station ten thousand refugees passed monthly. Pest ships from the Black Sea ports discharged their human cargoes on this barren island during the exodus of the Christian population from Anatolia. Dr. Stastny lived with these outcasts, who suffered from typhus and small-pox, and served them personally for six months. She was decorated with the Cross of St. George by the Greek Government, for this work. She contracted malaria in Greece and left in the fall of 1923. During that year and 1924 she gave many lectures all over the United States. In 1924, having returned to Omaha, she was elected a delegate to the International Medical Women's Conference in London, in July, and in the fall of that year she returned to Omaha, engaging in practice, and is now living in Omaha. In the summer of 1929 Dr. Stastny was appointed president-elect of the Women's National Medical Association, to asume her office at the 1930 meeting to be held in Detroit, Mich.
Mrs. Anna R. Kovanda, Table Rock, Nebraska, was for several years vice-president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association for Nebraska and in 1915 was elected president. However, she resigned that honor and again became vice-president. For four years (1910--1914) she directed the Headquarters of Literature at the Epworth League Assembly in Lincoln and also in Pawnee City, Nebraska. For her loyal and energetic service she received a diploma entitling her to the Honor Roll of the brave army of men and women who have rendered distinguished service to the cause of woman suffrage in America. This diploma is signed by Carrie Chapman Catt, President, and Jeanette L. Wilson, Recording Secretary. Mrs. Kovanda has also been active among her own people, having taught the Czech school and directed many dramatic performances in Czech and participating in lodge life. Mrs. Kovanda's parents, John Klima and wife, were Pawnee County pioneers. She was born on their farm near Steinauer, February 28, 1873. She attended the public schools and the Pawnee City Academy. On August 18, 1891, she married A. R. Kovanda, a son of pioneers there. They have one son, now president of the State Bank of Elk Creek.
Stanislav Serpan, Omaha, has achieved the distinction of being the first Czechoslovakian Consul for the district west of the Mississippi River. He is practically a self-taught man and was born December 19, 1887, in Tis, Bohemia, coming to this country in May, 1900, to Omaha, with his mother, the father having preceded them some years before. He attended public school in Omaha for a short time and when fourteen years old entered the services of National Printing Company as apprentice to the printing trade. Later he rose to the position of stenographer and secretary to John Rosicky (1905--1910) and still later had charge of the imported book department of the company. In 1912 he became editor of the Bratrsky Vestnik, a monthly organ of the Western Bohemian Fraternal Association, and is still serving in that capacity. During the World War he was secretary of the Bohemian National Alliance, when he was very active. Since 1920 he is president of the Lodge Palacky No. 1, Western Bohemian Fraternal Association and Tel. Jed. Sokol of Omaha, and is active as a speaker and organizer among Czechs. In January, 1921, he was made Consul for Czechoslovakia. He married Miss Emma Vlach and lives in Omaha.
Victor Hugo Duraswas born in Wilber, Nebraska, May 6, 1880. He graduated from the University of Nebraska, when he received the A. B. degree in 1900 and L. L. B. in 1902, in 1903 L. L. M. from the Columbia University and in 1905 D. C. L. and M. Diplomacy from the George Washington University. He was admitted to the bar in Nebraska, New York and Washington, D. C. In 1908 he was appointed Judge in Cristobal, Panama, when twenty-eight years old, the youngest United States judge ever appointed. He has written many articles on world peace and two books: Panama--West vs. East and Universal Peace by International Government. In 1914 he became American Vice-Consul to Liege, Belgium, where during the siege he was slightly wounded. After Liege capitulated, he was sent, at his own request, as Vice-Consul to St. Petersburg, Russia, where later he was accused of being a spy and imprisoned, but was released. At present he is an international lawyer (Washington and Paris) with office in Washington, D. C. Son of Saline County pioneers, Cenek and Marie Spirk Duras.
As far as known, Dr. John A. Habenicht was the pioneer Czech physician in Nebraska. He was born in 1840 in Caslav, Bohemia, his father being a German army doctor and his mother a Czech, an ardent patriot. Under her guidance he grew up to be a Czech. After attending school in his native village and later in Litomerice, where his father was transferred, he studied medicine in the University of Prague and later in Leipsig, Germany. He engaged in medical practice and in 1869 came to Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Habenicht was rather an unusual man, an ardent lover of literature and the dramatic art. He devoted thirty years of his life to writing a history of the Czechs in the United States which was published in 1904 by the Catholic paper Hlas in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1897 he published at his own expense his "Reminiscences of an old physician", which deals mainly with the history of the Czech settlement in Chicago. He revised and brought to date an edition of a popular medical book in Czech, written originally by Dr. Pecirka in Bohemia. He was a great admirer of Napoleon and in his large library were to be found any books he had ever heard of about his favorite hero. Dr. Habenicht was of a very restless nature and never stayed long anywhere, which propensity served him well in writing his history. He came to Nebraska the first time in 1880, to Wilber; in 1887 he moved to Schuyler and in 1890 again to Wilber, having lived in the meantime also in Dodge and possibly in other places. He did not stay long in Wilber the second time and after that never again settled in our state. In 1898 he returned finally to Chicago, where he died February 14, 1918, after a long illness, having been stricken by paralysis in 1916. His body was cremated and the ashes placed in the columbarium in the Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago.
As far as known, probably the next, as to pioneers, were the following, who were the first to study medicine in Nebraska: Dr. Louis Swoboda, a very successful physician in Omaha for many years, having now retired; Dr. Chas. H. Breuer, whose biography is given elsewhere; Dr. Joseph P. Pecival, biography given elsewhere, and Dr. J. R. Jicinsky, biography given elsewhere. These began to study in Omaha in 1893 and all but Dr. Jicinsky graduated there, he having finished in Rush College, Chicago.
The followingis a list of the physicians now practicing in our state. It was not possible to secure a list of all who in the past have been here and have died or moved away:
Dr. F. A. Barta, Ord; Dr. J. S. Broz, Rushville; Dr. F. J. Kalal, Dr. Joseph Cerny, Wilber; Dr. B. W. Drasky, Linwood; Dr. E. C. Hanisch, St. Paul; Dr. J. A. Jelinek, Bruno; Dr. B. Kantor, Sargent; Dr. J. Karnik, Dodge; Dr. W. J. Kavan, Dr. Vosika, Clarkson; Dr. R. C. Kirchman, Wilber; Dr. F. H. Kucera, Verdigre; Dr. C. E. Novak, Humboldt; Dr. Joseph Simecek, Swanton; Dr. Fred G. Kolouch, Dr. L. H. Sixta, Schuyler; Dr. V. V. Smrha, Milligan; Dr. J. J. Srb, Dwight; Dr. J. J. Stibal, Plattsmouth; Dr. F. J. Stejskal, Crete; Dr. A. E. Wanek, Loup City; Dr. J. G. Bartek, Dr. Ed. Chaloupka, Dr. John G. Chaloupka, Dr. L. L. Hanisch, Dr. G. J. Kadavy, Dr. Chas. J. Nemec, Dr. B. B. Sedlacek, Dr. F. A. Sedlacek, Dr. Olga Stastny, Dr. J. P. Swoboda, Dr. Franz Svoboda; Dr. Alfred Schalek, Dr. G. F. Simanek, Dr. Adolphus Srb, Dr. Jos. M. Schramek, Dr. W. L. Sucha, Dr. J. J. Warta, Dr. J. F. Lukovsky, all Omaha; Dr. C. H. Breuer, Dr. Miles Breuer, Lincoln.
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