Czechoslovak Heritage Museum

In Loving Memory

Jitka Vesel 1974 - 2011

Jitka Vesel is the former curator of the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum and has been serving in the volunteer position of Secretary of its Board of Trustees. Jitka is of Czech and Slovak descent, having been born in the Czech Republic, where she lived until the age of nine. She immigrated to the United States with her mother (who has since passed away) and her two brothers.

Jitka's vibrant life and energy were tragically ended on April 13th, following her attendance at a meeting of the Museum Board, working with other Board members for a special museum event honoring former Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, the only Czech-born American of a US city.

Jitka was a warm and helpful young woman, passionate about her Czech and Slovak heritage. She believed that the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum should be preserved for future generations because it is an integral part of the heritage of the Slovak, Moravian, and Czech people. Her dedication of time, efforts, and energy toward its success will be sorely missed, and those who knew her will not forget her legacy and her life.

In Loving Memory

Joan Hemzacek, nee Bolger 1932 - 2013

Joan had been interested in “people” and cultural groups since childhood – customs and costumes – decorative arts and literature. Ethnically Joan was of Irish and Scottish roots and her grandparents emigrated from those countries. Beginning in high school Joan became involved in folk dancing, particularly Irish dancing and became active in Irish activities and culture at the Irish Heritage Center on N. Knox Avenue in Chicago. Joan became active in their library, museum and genealogy study groups.

Joan attended Chicago Teachers College – now Illinois State University – with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with minors in Bio-Scienes and Art Education, and took additional Art History courses at the Art Institute of Chicago. Later Joan also took some post-graduate classes in Library Science and specialized literature at Dominican University.

When Joan married into a 100% Czech family and had children, Joan embarked on a major search of the Bohemian/Czech culture, so her children would be familiar with their roots. Joan became quite involved in genealogy: attending conferences and volunteering at whatever level Joan could.

Joan took courses at the National Archives – Great Lakes Region and then taught courses and volunteered as a docent for more than 12 years.

Joan had presented a number of talks at various conferences and to different groups including CSAGSI and local libraries (Arlington Heights, Lemont, Lombard & Hinsdale) and historical societies. For about 8 years Joan volunteered at Hinsdale Library for a number of genealogy presentations and also for many drop-in sessions for patrons seeking individual help.