In his younger days, he must have been a handsome fellow. Even today – even though time had bowed him a bit, and thinned his once luxurious lock of hair – he looks quite good. If you peered deeply into his eyes, you’d see in them shadows indicating that life did not always treat him (as it had hardly anyone) with much consideration.
Vladimír was born on November 11, 1931 in Pilsen’s maternity hospital (the family lived in Kralovice). It was in Kralovice, where Vladimír attended public school. During the war – in 1941 – his father, a professor at agricultural school, was transferred to Novy Bydžov, where – two years later- he was appointed deputy director. That year the family moved to Volyně in the Šumava region and Vladimír was a student at the Strakonice gymnasium. To get there, he had to go by train. After the war ended, the family moved again. This time to Stod, and Vadimír changed schools – from Strakonice to Pilsen, where he had a chance to study English. But again, the only way to get to Pilsen was by train.
In July, 1947, the family was struck by a disaster: Vladimír’s father bicycled to a car repair shop to pick up his car. The family planned to attend the July 6 national festivities in Domažlice. He was hit by a car from behind and died in hospital. Following the funeral, the family (the widow, Vladimír and his sister) moved to the mother’s sister in Rakovník. There, Vladimir was able to study French and participate in sailing courses and – of course – had to engage in the obligatory brigades on a collective farm and later also brigades in coal mines. His mother found a job as teacher of religion at the rural schools (at least until the regime terminated religious education a couple of years later). After graduation from gymnasium in 1950, and completing one month brigade in Ostrava, he was accepted as a student at the Technical University in Prague.
During his studies – his field was mechanical engineering (he specialized in cars and tractors) – he spent time in the Skoda factory in with Electrovert Mfg. Co. in Laprairie in Quebec as a design engineer, responsible for designing and testing of new equipment for automated wave soldering systems, used in electronic equipment (NASA, IBM, computer electronics); in 1973 he was appointed manager of the Quality Control & Product Improvement Department. In 1975, Vladimír joined the Quality Assurance Engineering department of the Montreal branch of the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited as Procurement and Design Engineer responsible for supervising enterprises manufacturing equipment for the reactors of nuclear power stations. He played an important role in the selection of the suppliers of equipment to the nuclear power stations and supervision of the quality (including testing procedures) of their products. Among his duties was also review, evaluation and acceptance of Manufacturing , Inspection and Test Plans and related procedures for various categories of nuclear and non-nuclear equipment. Vladimír retired in 1996 (moving – in the meantime – with his family, which now included a son, Martin, to Oakville and to the head office of AECL in Mississauga-Toronto).
Martin became the source of joy for his parents for many reasons. For one, he was successful in his work: his first job – after completing university in 1994 – was, rather ironically, with Procter & Gamble in Toronto, a company which after the fall of the Communist regime became the owner of the illegally nationalized Rakovnik company, founded by his great-grandfather and granffather. Martin was also a talented sportsman – and not of some everyday variety. He chose triathlon and in 1991 won the European segment, from Bavaria, across Šumava, to the Czech Republic. His sweater displayed the name of Canada, but when he was receiving his prize in the Czech Republic, also the name Bata, the company which sponsored him.
Vladimír was member of a number of professional organizations. At the time of his employment with Stavoservis in Czechoslovakia, he was a member of the Science -Technical Society. In Canada, he joined the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, the Order of Engineers of Quebec, the American Society of Quality Control. He is a member of two Czechoslovak organizations, Sokol and the Czech and Slovak Association of Canada. He participated – with his wife Dáša – as members of the Canadian Sokol group – in two All-Sokol Festivals in Prague in 2000 and 2006. We wish him, his wife Dáša, Martin and granddaughter Hana, many wonderful years.
* * *
Author: Josef Čermák (CzechFolks.com PLUS)
Foto: Linda Hilliard
Musel být za mlada velký fešák. Ještě dnes – i když ho čas trochu naklonil a probral se mu v bujné kštici – vypadá dobře. Podíváte-li se mu hlouběji do očí, uvidíte v nich stíny, znamení, že život se k němu (jako skoro k nikomu z nás) nechoval vždycky ohleduplně.
Vladimír se narodil 11. listopadu 1931 v plzeňské porodnici (rodiče bydleli v Kralovicích). V Kralovicích začal chodit do obecné školy. Během války – v roce 1941 – byl jeho tatínek, profesor na hospodářské škole, přeložen do Nového Bydžova, kde se o dva roky později stal náměstkem ředitele. V roce 1943 se rodina přesunula do Volyně na Šumavě – to už Vladimír dojížděl vlakem do gymnázia ve Strakonicích.
* * *