Wencel L. Cukerski

Page 643-644 - Wencel L. Cukerski, former superintendent of the park system of the city of Grand Rapids, is known for his exceptional talent and skill as a landscape gardener and horticulturist, and since his retirement from the important municipal office just mentioned, he has given his attention primarily to his prosperous business enterprise, conducted under the title of the Grand Rapids Floral Company. His administration as superintendent of the parks of Grand Rapids covered a period of slightly more than twenty-five years, and in connection with his relinquishment of the position a local newspaper, under date of November 20, 1908, gave the following appreciative estimate and tribute: "When Wencel L. Cukerski retires from the office of superintendent of parks he will leave behind him visible proof of the effectiveness of his labors in the service of the city. The parks, in their beauty, stand as monuments to his artistic skill as a landscape gardener and to his ability to accomplish large results with a comparatively small financial outlay. Eighteen years ago, when Mr. Cukerski became connected with the city parks, Grand Rapids had little cause to be proud of its park system. Today the praises and delighted exclamations of outside visitors to the parks, and especially the John Ball park, are sweet music in the ears of Grand Rapids citizens. Travelers who have journeyed far are quick to admit that in John Ball Park this city has one of the most charming parks on either side of the Atlantic. Much of the credit for this gratifying condition is due to the skill, good taste and wise direction of Mr. Cukerski. With rare sound sense, he has not sought to replace the beauties of nature, but rather to preserve and embellish them. Mr. Cukerski has rendered a notable service to Grand Rapids, and he retires from office with a record of which he may well feel proud." Mr. Cukerski was born in the historic old city of Posen, Poland, September 14, 1869, and is a son of Michael and Caroline (Pawloski) Cukerski, who passed their entire lives in German Poland. Michael Cukerski was an able landscape gardener and for many years had charge of the gardening on a fine estate of 40,000 acres, of which 30,000 acres were available for cultivation and the remainder covered with heavy timber. In his native land Wencel L. Cukerski attended the Catholic parochial school of the church in which his parents were communicants, and there he continued his studies until he was fourteen years of age. He has ever manifested a deep appreciation of the excellent discipline and training that he thereafter received in landscape gardening under the able and punctilious direction of his father, and he early manifested distinct talent in this line of work. He later attended Enfurth College, one of the largest agricultural institutions of Germany, and there he admirably fortified himself in all scientific and practical details of floriculture and landscape gardening. After leaving college he served as assistant to one of the foremost landscape gardeners in the city of Berlin, and in 1890, about the time of attaining to his legal majority, he came to the United States and established his residence in Grand Rapids. Here he was in the employ of Henry Smith until 1892, and to gain a better knowledge of the English language and to fit himself more fully for business affairs, he took a course in a leading commercial college in Grand Rapids. In 1892 he was engaged as a landscape engineer in connection with the public parks of the city, and recognition of his ability and his loyalty came when he was made superintendent of the city park system, a position in which he continued his service until 1909 and in which he achieved a splendid work that shall ever be of cumulative value to the city and remain a perpetual reminder of his talent and constructive service, besides which his administration in this office gained him professional fame that far transcends mere local limitations. It was upon his retirement from this municipal service that Mr. Cukerski established himself in independent business as a florist, and he has made the Grand Rapids Floral Company one of the most successful concerns of its kind in this section of Michigan. As a consulting landscape gardener and architect, Mr. Cukerski finds much requisition for his advise and service, and such service he continues to render in connection with the improving and maintenance of public parks and boulevards, public and private institutions, cemeteries, real estate dealers, railroad corporations and owners of city and suburban homes. Mr. Cukerski was called into service as landscape engineer of the Michigan state park system, during the period of 1920-22, and within this interval he laid out 10,000 acres in parks. He has had supervision of park platting and development in numerous Michigan cities, including Ludington, Muskegon, Cadillac, and Holland. In passing the civil-service examination for landscape engineer Mr. Cukerski gained rank as thirteenth of all who took the examination throughout the United States, and he was notified to report for government work, but he had to refuse this by reason of the important Michigan state work he had in line at the time. He is affiliated with the Elks, is a member of the Lions Club and he and his family are communicants of the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart. February 6, 1894, was solemnized his marriage to Miss Helen Poposki, who was born and reared in Grand Rapids and whose parents, Andrew and Catherine Poposki, were born in Poland. Mr. and Mrs. Cukerski have three children: Florence (Mrs. Stanley Gogulski), Josephine and Katherine.


Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 7 January 2004
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/white1924/personal/cukerskiwl.html