Svatopluk Kudej (1924-2015)

Svata KudejWe are saddened to report of passing of our SVU faithful member Svaťa Kuděj who died on April 26, 2015, at the age of 91. He was born on April 30, 1924 in Mírov in northern Moravia. When he was six years old his family moved to Kutná Hora in Bohemia where he spent his formative years. After completing gymnasium, he attended the University of Economics in Prague (1945-49), graduating cum laude, as a commercial engineer. During these formative education stages, he also studied diligently English, French and Russian, having already been bilingual in Czech and German.

Having finished his university studies, he spent several years at the Czechoslovak Embassy in the Commercial Attaché Section, in Istanbul, Turkey. In 1951 he married his high school sweetheart, Blanka Ohlídková and in the same year their daughter, also Blanka, was born.

In 1966 Svaťa and Blanka, with their daughter escaped from Czechoslovakia and in 1967 they immigrated to New York City. Svaťa became a successful businessman exporting aircraft parts, while Blanka held an important position at Columbia University School of Law Library. In 2001 they moved to Florida.

The Kudějs were very active in New York Czech community, especially in the local chapter of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Science (SVU) and later also nationally and internationally. Blanka became Secretary General of the Society for several years, among a number of other functions she held, during which times Svaťa helped her enormously. He was also of great assistance to her in Florida when Blanka became President of the SVU Local Chapter there. Frankly, he was involved in just about everything Blanka did for SVU, but in his unassuming role, his invisible contributions have not been fully recognized.

I still remember our first meeting which took place in Bethlehem, PA at a reception on the occasion of President Václav Havel’s visit there. There are certain individuals whom one likes almost instantly, when first meeting them, just as there are other individuals whom one instinctively dislikes. Svaťa and Blanka Kuděj, without doubt, fell into the first category. We became instant friends.

Svaťa Kuděj’s parting is a great loss to SVU and to all of us who knew him well and who were his close friends.