We honor here members, friends and supporters of the American Council of the Blind who have impacted our lives in many wonderful ways. If you would like to submit a notice for this column, please include as much of the following information as possible.
Name (first, last, maiden if appropriate)
City of residence (upon passing)
State/province of residence (upon passing)
Other cities/states/countries of residence (places where other blind people may have known this person)
Date of death (day if known, month, year)
ACB affiliation (local/state/special-interest affiliates or national committees)
Deaths that occurred more than six months ago cannot be reported in this column.
Frank Kurt Cylke
Feb. 13, 1932 - April 17, 2019
Frank Kurt Cylke died on Thursday, April 17, 2019. He was born in New Haven, Conn. on Feb. 13, 1932 to Helen and Frank Cylke. He loved his family. And he was proud to have been a librarian.
Kurt defined his professional career as a mission — to open the worlds of knowledge, learning and scholarship to the young, the old, the rich, the poor, the well-educated and the poorly educated. He lived out this mission at school and university libraries in Palm Beach and New Haven; at city public libraries in Bridgeport, New Haven and Providence; as a volunteer at the county library in Great Falls; through gifts of his treasured book collections — Arthur Ransome to Georgetown University and Moby Dick to Mystic Marine Museum; at United States government libraries, as chair of the Federal Library Committee; and, most distinctively, in his 38-year tenure as director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress. A career captured by an overriding idea. He believed libraries should be available and open to everyone, without distinction.
Kurt’s career commitment to librarianship is reflected by the Joseph W. Lippincott Award, given to him by the American Library Association for a lifetime of distinguished service.
In retirement, Kurt continued his lifelong love of books and reading. His preferences were long and varied. He also continued to treasure Great Falls, as a volunteer at the National Park and as an avid bird watcher with early morning groups. Kurt also was a member of the Knights of Columbus and member in good standing of the Crow’s Nest Officer Club, Saint John’s, Newfoundland. But none of these activities matched the enthusiasm and energy that he devoted to the Apostleship of the Sea with weekly visits to the seafarers at the Port of Baltimore.
Kurt’s beloved family was the most meaningful consideration in his own understanding of life and legacy. His wife Mary, son Kurt Jr. (Anna), daughters Amanda (Jeff) and Virginia (Mark), grandsons Michael, Callaghan, Thomas, granddaughters Molly and Harper, and his brother Owen (Nancy). And it is probably safe to say that each of them, and countless other colleagues, friends and volunteers, will continue to recall “Poppy’s” lifelong association with books, boats and birds. Those who knew Kurt will remember his advice, taken from Arthur Ransome, “Grab a chance and don’t be sorry for a might have been.”
He did much to benefit people who are blind through his leadership of NLS for 38 years. May he rest in peace!