Is This the Saddest Face in the Cemetery?
Patek, Jurecka, and Tarzan
This sculpture was done by Cryil Jurecka for the grave of Joseph H Patek.
Cyril Jurecka was born in Moravia, on July 4, 1884. Jurecka studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.
In 1914 he immigrated to the United States. His immigration record lists his final destination as Chicago to visit a friend, Josef Nosik of 3123 W 26th.
By 1919 he had moved to southern California and was active in the Los Angeles art scene. By the early 1930s he had settled in Claremont where he taught sculpture at Pomona College until 1949.
From the LA Times, June 3, 1934, we learn of "...John Burroughs, senior at Pomona College, son of Edgar Rice Burroughs, famous author of the Tarzan stories. Burroughs has been studying painting under Prof. Thomas Beggs and sculpture under Prof. Cyril Jurecka of Pomona College art department. His life ambition is to illustrate animal stories and to produce models of animals for museums."
In the end John Burroughs did the illustrations for all his father's books.
But who was Joseph Patek? The inscripton on his stone gives little information and is hard to read as well.
Immigration records show Franz Patek, age 44, a farmer, immigrated from Bohemia in 1896. In 1900, his wife Marie immigrated with their two children, Marie, age 8 and Josef, age 10, so we may conclude Josef was born in 1890.
At the time Cyril Jurecka came to Chicago, Franz Patek would have been age 63 and son Josef age 26. What were the circumstances that led to the death of Josef and what was the connection that caused Jurecka to make the sculpture? Much more digging will be needed to fill in those gaps.