Friends of the Rozmberk Society Inc.
Czech Friends is the working name for the Friends of the Rozmberk Society Inc (FORS). Our corporation was established to support, financially and otherwise, the mission and activities of the Czech Rozmberk Society for heritage conservation and regional development.
In addition, FORS aims to actively help preserve the Czech heritage in North America, facilitate joint US - Czech projects and student exchanges, and promote a free, democratic, and multi-cultural society.
FORS was incorporated as a charity in the State of Iowa on 28 August 2003 and has 501 (c) (3) status (tax exempt, donations are tax-deductible) with the IRS since 2004.
The seat of FORS is in Oxford Junction, Iowa. This little town has about 160 families, over 100 of them with one or more ancestors from the Czech Republic. Most of them were farmers who emigrated from South Bohemia in the second half of the 19th century. In 2001, Oxford Junction signed a Sister City Partnership with the municipality of Jilovice.
FORS publishes its website under the name Czech Friends and publishes a twice-yearly magazine under the same name.
The Board of FORS
Marlene Flory is President of the Corporation, living in Oxford Junction and strongly involved in many community activities
Judy Nelson is our treasurer. Judy originates from Oxford Junction as well but is now enjoying her retirement in Florida, which includes ongoing research into the genealogy and historic background of herself and many other O.J-ers descending from the Czech settlers who helped establish and build Oxford Junction.
Pat Svaty is our secretary. Pat is living in Ellsworth, Kansas, in an area were many Czechs settled.
John Vanicek originates from Oxford Junction as well, but is now living in Milwaukee, WI.
Nick Mizauer's ancestors came from the village of Kojakovice, seat of the Rozmberk Society, and finally settled in Oxford Junction, the seat of FORS.
Janet Jeffries completes our board. Janet’s ancestors passed through Oxford Junction a century ago, to finally settle in the vicinity of Wilber, Nebraska, the Czech Capital of the USA.
Drs. Robert Dulfer, a Dutchman, is Director and co-founder of the corporation. He came to the Czech Republic as biologist in 1993 and initiated several conservation and regional development initiatives.
Since April 1998, he continues with the conservation of nature and cultural heritage and region development in the Czech Republic as director of the Rozmberk Society. Over the last years, he was several times in the US Midwest States also, working for US-Czech heritage conservation.
Research and genealogy
Research on the history of Oxford Junction and in particular on the Czech settlers who helped build this town is done by Rita Balichek, Marlene Flory, and Judy Nelson.
The research on the South Bohemian roots of the Czech settlers is done by Olga Cerna. Olga Cerna is co-founder of the Rozmberk Society and was also involved in establishing the Friends of the Rozmberk Society Inc. Being born in the village of Kojakovice and having lived and worked always in that South Bohemian region, she has a good contact with locals and has an intimate knowledge of the regional history. Having worked for 5 years in the State Archives in Trebon and conducting professional genealogical research for the last 8 years has given her a good knowledge about the regional emigration history.
Together with Robert Dulfer, she is also providing professional genealogical services for those who are trying to find their roots in South Bohemia.
The Czech Rozmberk Society
The mission of the Rozmberk Society is to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the fishpond area in the eastern part of South Bohemia, Czech Republic, and to help the much-needed economic re-development of that region. The Society is involved in several regional and international projects on heritage conservation and regional development.
The Society also operates a small village museum and information center in the protected hamlet of Kojakovice and is now establishing a network of historic workshops in the area. Historic emigration from this South-Bohemian region to America is an important focal point of the Society.
In memorial Jean Shanelec
On 8 June 2004, Jean Shanelec, member of our Board, passed away at the age of 78. Jean had an unbelievable large knowledge about emigration history and genealogy and an even larger hunger for still learning more. She had traced here ancestors way back to the first 17th century immigrants, and then followed with tracing all four Czech ancestors of Pep, her husband.
She motivated many to keep developing themselves and stay interested in the many good things of life. With her death, we lost a very good and close friend.