COMPLETED: The Search for Frantisek (Frank) THEINER (TYNER)

In June 2001 a Real Estate Company in Prague, Czech Republic, requested us to locale a Frantisek (Frank) THEINER because he had a right to reclaim some Real Estate in Prague which had been stolen from the family by the Nazi regime in 1940 Prague, and again in 1948 by the communist regime there.

What we know about him was pretty sparse:
Frantisek (Frank) THEINER was born March 29, 1895 in Prague. He was last heard of in 1946 when he lived in New York at 207 at West 106 Street.

If he was no longer alive, our brief was to locate his family or heirs, because they will have inherited this right to reclaim the property in Prague.

We contacted a very large number of people with this surname - both by e-mail and ordinary post, but no one recognized the name at all. It appeared as if we would have to give up. There simply was not enough information to find the man.

At the beginning of February 2003 we were then given one more fact about Frank THEINER: it had been established that "according to the General consulate of Czechoslovakia in New York, Frank THEINER had became a U.S. citizen on July 14, 1943, Certificate of Naturalization No. 5918749.

This gave us a new line of research....

In the New York Times database (under a heading of "Business Leases") gave the following:
Frank Theiner, interior decorator, store space in 983 Amsterdam Avenue: Sydney L. Warsawer & Son, brokers
This item appeared in the New York Times of 15 November 1944, Page 36.
(We later learned that 983 Amsterdam Avenue (at 108th Street) is two blocks away from 207 West 106th Street (at Amsterdam Avenue.)
There was another item in the New York Times index of possible interest:
A wedding announcement from 17 November 1952 (Page 29) headed "Gwendolyn Kieve A Bride":
"The Wedding of Gwendolyn KIEVE, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Caesar Kieve of Weehawken, N.J., to Edgar J. Feldman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mayer G. Feldman of 930 Fifth Avenue, took place yesterday at noon in the Baroque Suite of the Plaza Hotel. The Rev. Dr. Theodore Ross performed the ceremony. Mrs. Frank Theiner attended her niece.... . Mrs. Feldman is an alumna of the Dalton School and the Juilliard School of Music. The bridegroom was graduated from Rutgers University. He served with the Sea Bees during the second World War."
The obvious question arose - was this the same Frank Theiner?
(There was also a notice in the Times index that Mr. and Mrs. Mayer C. Feldman had announced the bar mitzvah of their son Edgar J. (Buddy) at Congregation Shaari Zedek, 221 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, on November 24, 1934.)
We then traced this Edgar J. Feldman - and as they say, "the rest is history" +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

At this juncture we learned that Frank THEINER had changed his name to Frank TYNER. VIOLA THEINER (TYNER) had died on 06 Nov 1971 and frank on May 8, 1979.

A remarkable tribute to the man was published by the Daily NewsLife in Beverly Hill, California:


Man Who Lost Millions to Reds Does

Comeback With Do It Yourself Idea

DO IT YOURSELF — Here is Frank Tyner, Beverly Hills lumberman who originated the "Do It Yourself" school of home craftsmanship 40 years ago in Czechoslovakia. He's an expert cabinetmaker, lost more than $1,000,000 in confiscated Czechoslovakia property to the Communists, and has come to California to start all over again. A handy man with the saw and hammer, Tyner has made all of the equipment and counters in his "Do-It-Yourself" retail lumber store at 9308 Santa Monica Blvd., and says he's happiest amid the sawdust and glue-pots of his well-equipped shop.
Americans who have, a tendency to gripe about the "lack of opportunity" in the U.S. may well take a lesson from Frank Tyner of Beverly Hills.Tyner once owned the largest lumber company in Czechoslovakia plus the biggest African mahogany importing business in Europe, and lost it all when the Communists swooped down on Czechoslovakia shortly after World War II. But he came to the U.S. started all over again with a boyhood dream come true, and now is sure his “Accurate Lumber Company” in Beverly Hills is the answer to an amateur carpenter's prayer.Tyner, incidentally, started "Do-It-Yourself" school of home woodworking more than 40 years ago, when he was still in his teens. But that's only part of his story.
In his sawdust- powdered clothes at his Beverly Hills office, Tyner stopped his whining electric saw long enough to be interviewed by NewsLife. His partner, G. R. Vincent, sat in on the Interview to prompt the pleasant-voiced, white-haired Tyner about his various experiences. Vincent himself is worthy of a story, because he owns more than 3,000 priceless recordings of the voices of great persons, and once set up the recording apparatus at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.But this is about Frank Tyner, 59, who parlayed a boyhood idea into a million-dollar-a-year business, only to lose it to the Reds… and start all over again. Tyner's father and grandfather owned the largest lumber company in Czechoslovakia, and the small Frank was destined to succeed his father in control of the company. But the elder Tyner had nothing to do with young Frank's fascination for working in wood. Tyner recalled that as a Prague schoolboy he would linger for hours after class, absorbedly watching through a basement window a master cabinetmaker at work.
When Frank had watched the cabinetmaker every day for months, the old Czech one after noon invited the small boy into his shop, and opened the way to a trade which has never lost its fascination for Tyner. Noting the lad's absorption with woodworking, the old cabinetmaker asked the elder Tyner's- permission to take Frank as an apprentice, and the boy became an expert in woodworking at the tender age of four teen. When Frank left school, he succeeded his father as operator of the Prague lumber company fabricated, grooved, and planed the parts for a custom-built cabinet. The friend assembled the cabinet, and fascinated acquain- width=160>
tances soon began to pester the young Tyner for more of his amazing home-carpentry kits, FATHER OPPOSESTyner worked on his days off and on holidays to make the prefabricated articles, and nearly quarrelled with his father over his plan to market the idea. The Czech carpenters who supplied the backbone of the Tyner lumber trade, Frank's father maintained would be furious if any relatively intelligent person could be enabled to assemble his own furniture… with Tyner lumber. But Frank’s enthusiasm for the project prevailed and the Do-It-Yourself school was launched. A casual glance at the number of woodcraft and popular science magazines on sale nowadays will indicate how the plan has fired the imagination of persons throughout the world. At 19, Tyner was a full-fledged lumber company executive, but his enthusiasm for innovation didn't stop there. In 1919 the invention of plywood by a pole brought new horizons to cabinet-making. But the amazing new wood had to be thoroughly seasoned and of the highest quality!
With recurring wars and uncontrolled stripping of forests, Europe's lumber supply was fast dwindling. Then one day a friend of Tyner's (an Australian who had lost a million dollars when his ancient family holdings were "redistributed," and who promptly went to Africa to make another million) brought back several wood samples from the Dark Continent Tyner took one look at the rich African wood, and saw a solution for the plywood supply problem. Tyner and a group of plywood manufacturers began importing a supply of logs from Cameroon, West Africa, and soon owned one of the only forest-to-customer lumber businesses in the world.
But Tyner was a reserve officer in the Czechoslovakian army, and when Hitler threatened the world in the 1930's, he was occasionally called back to duty as an officer of border guards. Nazi storm troopers had a habit of "infiltrating" into the Sudetenland, where Capt. Tyner was stationed, and as a matter of course Tyner's men shot several of the "visitors." Tyner went on the rolls of the Nazi party as an "enemy of the people” and his name was underscored for immediate arrest when the Nazis went into Czechoslovakia to begin their bloody, attempt at the establishment of a Thousand-Year Reich. Tyner had married an American girl, daughter of a U.S. diplomat stationed in Prague. One day in 1938, when war clouds loomed in Europe, Tyner and his bride decided to make a short trip to the U.S.
When their train crossed the
Austrian-Slovak border in the dead of night, Tyner was awakened by the clatter of horses’ hoofs outside their car. He peaked out, to see the awesome might of the German army pouring over the Czechoslovakian border. When the Tyner's train reached Linz, Austria, the next day, Frank saw the black newspaper headlines proclaiming the "protective” invasion of his home Land. A letter from their housemaid in Prague showed the pair had narrowly missed arrest, for Gestapo agents had visited the Tyner home to arrest Frank, while the German army materiel still clattered through the streets of Prague. In America, his Prague property and income hermetically sealed off by the Nazis, Frank began again. On Amsterdam Avenue in New York, Tyner set up a tiny prefabricated furniture shop, and soon the amateur carpenters of New York were beating a path to his door.
It was in New York that Tyner met Vincent, then an army officer, and decided he had found a worthy partner. Tyner's ambition had always been to come to California, and late in 1952, the Tyners left their New York home to move to Beverly Hills. Their present home is at 115 N. Maple Dr. Last October, Tyner and Vincent opened the Beverly Hills offices of the Accurate Lumber Company. By this time, the
"People's Government" in Czechoslovakia had nationalized the Tyner holdings in Prague, and Frank lost more than $1,000,000 in the "transaction." The Reds still operate his factory and lumberyard, however. . . in fact, it's the only one still producing in Czechoslovakia. So Tyner began again, and if his enthusiasm and long years of experience can be counted a measure, he’ll succeed. At any rate, the amateur builders of the Westside will find friendly advice and top-flight professional work at the Accurate offices. There’s a tag to Tyner’s story, though. He’s being sued by the Czech “people’s” government now. Seems that through a bureaucratic slipup in Prague's Red government, Tyner was mistakenly allowed to "profit" from the nationalization of his company, to the princely amount of 8,000 crowns . , , about two dollars.So last week, the Czech embassy in Washington sent a stern ultimatum to Tyner, who had lost more than a million dollars to the Reds. Frank Tyner, who has the signal distinction of being an enemy of the people in both the eyes of the Nazi and Communist governments, is being sued. Seems he owes the Czechs two dollars.
Back to Current Searches