Richard Baranczyk, the final surviving member of the allied unit generally known as Monuments to Males and Girls, which throughout and after World Conflict II preserved huge quantities of European artwork and cultural property that had been looted and hidden by Nazi Germany, died on July 14 in Chicago. He was 98.
His demise within the hospital was confirmed by his daughter Jill Baranchik.
Mr. Baranchyk (pronounced ba-ran-sick) was one in every of 4 members of what was formally the Monuments, Wonderful Arts, and Archives Part to obtain the 2015 Congressional Gold Medal in Washington for his or her “heroic function within the preservation, safety, and restitution of monuments, artistic endeavors, and artifacts of cultural significance.”
On the day of the ceremony, Mr. Baranchik informed The Los Angeles Occasions: “The Individuals cared concerning the cultural traditions of Europe. We did our greatest to avoid wasting what the Nazis did. It is the very best we might do.”
Non-public First Class Mr. Baranchik served in England and France the place, based on his daughter, he was not on the entrance traces, and loved the march, the meals and the construction of army life till Germany capitulated. After being posted to Salzburg, Austria, he volunteered for monumental companies for 3 months as a driver and safety guard.
The “Monuments of Males and Girls” included about 350 folks, amongst whom have been administrators of museums, curators, scientists, historians and artists whose duties included directing Allied bombers from cultural websites in Europe; management over repairs in case of harm; and monitoring down the thousands and thousands of things looted by the Nazis and returning them to the establishments and international locations they got here from.
Mr. Baranchik, who later grew to become an architect, was excited about artwork. He drew cartoons for his faculty newspaper and was excited about seeing church buildings and different buildings in Europe. However as an knowledgeable on monuments, he in all probability didn’t see most of the work, sculptures, and different artifacts that he guarded and transported to the Allied meeting level; they have been in containers.
“Somebody might say, ‘There’s a Vermeer in there,’ and he knew that artwork was necessary and priceless,” mentioned Robert Edsel, founder and chairman of the Monuments to Males and Girls Basis, who interviewed Mr. Baranchik and 20 different survivors of the squad for his e book The Monument Males: Hero Allies, Nazi Thieves, and the Best Treasure Hunt in Historical past (2009, with Bret Witter). The e book was tailored for the 2014 movie The Monument Males which starred and starred George Clooney.
Mr. Edsel mentioned Mr. Baranchik was cautious throughout their two interviews, stunned by the curiosity within the short-term Monument Man, who, not like his extra skilled colleagues, didn’t have a creative specialty.
“He appeared extra curious that I might put what he had completed into perspective, as if he didn’t perceive the place he was within the large image,” Mr. Edsel mentioned by telephone.
Ms. Baranchyk mentioned her father “was very embarrassed by the eye” he obtained for receiving the Congressional Gold Medal.
“He did not really feel like a hero,” she mentioned by telephone. “He mentioned: “I used to be a baby, I used to be there for 3 months. It is not good for me to take credit score for myself.” However I might say to him: “You have been a witness, you symbolize people who find themselves now not with us.”
Mr. Edsel recalled that after the ceremony, Mr. Baranchik informed him: “I’m so deeply grateful to you and the muse for what you will have completed, and I’m extra honored than I can specific it.”
Richard Morton Baranchik was born October 19, 1924 in Chicago. His father, Henry, was a household doctor and served as Chief of Workers at South Shore Hospital; his mom, Carrie (Grivog) Baranchik, was a housewife and performed piano in ballet lessons.
After working as a monument specialist, Mr. Baranchik stayed in Europe to check structure on the College of Cambridge in England and on the Faculty of Wonderful Arts in Paris. Returning to the US, he enrolled on the College of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and obtained a bachelor’s diploma in structure within the late Forties.
In 1950, with one in every of his design instructors on the College of Illinois, he opened the architectural agency of Barancik, Conte & Associates. The corporate has designed personal homes, workplace towers, suburban workplace complexes, bowling alleys, faculties and luxurious house buildings.
“I do structure seven days every week, all waking hours,” he informed The Chicago Tribune in 1986. “It is an all-consuming occupation.” He retired in 1993.
Along with daughter Jill, Mr. Baranchik is survived by two different daughters, Cathy Graham and Ellie Baranchik; two sons, Robert and Michael; 4 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His marriage to Rema Stone resulted in divorce, and his marriages to Claire Holland and Susanna Hammerman ended of their deaths.
One of many benefits of the eye given to Mr. Baranchik as a specialist in monuments was the correspondence he obtained.
“He obtained letters from followers and requests for autographs as soon as every week,” Ms. Baranchik mentioned. “He was getting delicate letters from folks, a lot of them schoolchildren, which stored the dialog going.”