Olga Folda Stepanek was born in 1906 in Linwood, Nebraska, and lived in Clarkson, Nebraska, until she went to college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She graduated from Downer College in 1927 and spent the following year living with her parents in Prague, Czechoslovakia. She took two trips abroad and traveled throughout Europe, visiting Scotland, England, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. She spent a year teaching high school in Lena, Illinois, before completing a Master's in English from the University of Chicago.
Following her graduation in December of 1930, she married Orin Stepanek, Professor of English and Slavonic Languages at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Stepaneks had four daughters: Olenka "Lennie," Natasha "Tasha," Teresa "Tessie," and Antonia "Toni." Olga worked at home as a mother and maintained strong interests in reading and writing. She kept journals, remained a prolific letter writer, and wrote several short stories, including "The Dowry," which appeared in a 1933 issue of Prairie Schooner, and "Towers," which was published in American Czech Magazine.
After Orin's death in 1955, Olga joined the faculty at UNL in the Department of English and established the English as a Second Language program. During the latter part of her career, Olga's creative interests turned toward the visual arts, and in 1987 she won the first Lincoln-Lancaster Women's Commission Woman Artist Award for Visual Art. Olga died at age 91 in September 1998.
Orin Stepanek was born in 1888 in Crete, Nebraska. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska in 1913 and went on to receive his Master's from Harvard in 1914. He taught at Michigan State College in 1914-1915 and then at a high school in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1915 until 1917. During WWI, Stepanek served in the U.S. Marine Corps and then returned to Harvard in 1918. The following year he went to Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he continued his studies and worked with the YMCA. In 1920 he came to the University of Nebraska to teach literature and language, specializing in comparative and Slavonic literature. Stepanek taught at UNL until his death in 1955. His publications include two Slavic Grammars, articles on American literature and Czech culture, and a few original poems.
Olga Stepanek Biography - author: Michal Cvejn
This was presented at the 2010 Czech and Slovak Great Plains Symposium, at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln by Michal Cvejn.
COLLECTION OF HER SHORT STORIES
OLGA'S VISUAL ART
In the following pictures you can see examples of Olga's handmade art.