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Written by Lorraine Thomas Berry

1902 - 1987

Olive Marie "Olinka"Benes Hrdy, born August 7, 1902, in a small one room sod house north of Prague, was the daughter of Joe and Emma Benes Hrdy.
The family claim had been staked by Joe, who had been born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Emma was born in Munden, Kansas.
Olinka's parents divorced while she was quite young and she, with her mother and small brother, moved to an Indian lease and farmed for their livelihood. She recalls the next decade as happy, though not as all easy, as they became cotton farmers, tilling and harvesting with the aid of a team of great mules. School was attended by riding her black horse four miles twice daily.
She wrote, "Early I had gotten hold of a copy of 'The Girl of the Limberlost' by Gene Stratton Potter. I tried to be like her; it influenced my early life. I remember often riding to the edge of the swamp, butterfly net in hand; abandoning my clothes; unbraiding my long hair, and riding, carefree, through the woods; chasing butterflies or gathering arm loads of flowers...I remember distinctly in the evening, the constant tom-tom beats of Indians nearby. My aunt ran away with a handsome Indian brave whose mother, Alice Brown Davis, was the only woman ever appointed chief of the Seminole tribe. I learned to love the Indians, firsthand."
While living on the Indian lease, Olinka saw a copy of the National Geographic magazine containing reproductions of paintings by Nicholas Roerich. This stimulated her imagination and made her determined to someday see his paintings, and perhaps meet the artist.
Olinka graduated from high school, and with her mother's gift of a few dollars, went to the University of Oklahoma. After enrolling in the art courses, her ability for creative design came to the attention of Professor Jacobsen and University president Bizzell. The professor and Edith Mahier underwrote Olinka's tuition fees, and were intrumental in her commission to decorate the thirty dining room doors in the women's dormitories.
After five years at the university, Ms. Hrdy graduated with the highest honors and was awarded the Leteizer Gold Medal for Art.
After completing commissions at the Oklahoma City High School and at a Tulsa theatre, Olinka felt an urge to leave Oklahoma. She went to New York City, where she immediately went to the Roerich Museum with a sample of her drawings.
She walked out with a scholarship for further studies, and her dream of seeing Roerich's paintings fulfilled. She got a job designing textile patterns during the daytime.
Feeling the need for steal broader horizons, the artist went to Taliesen, Wisconsin, where she taught creative design for Master Architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. She also designed posters and gold trophy cups for the Chicago World's Fair.
After returning to New York City for a short time, Olinka made her way to California, where she painted murals for a moving picture studio. Later, she became chief designer for the state of California. She established visual exhibits for various industries, such as beekeeping, cattle raising, sheep, chickens, horse breeding, chinchillas, fruit growing, and so forth.
Olinda Hrdy's art was exhibited over many years in Oklahoma City, Norman, Tulsa and Stillwater, Oklahoma; Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, California; Denver, Colorado; Chicago, Illinois; New York City and Paris, France.
Olinka was married to Ray Clair Tracy during the time she was resided in California; and during World War II, she and her husband worked at Douglas Aircraft, where she was responsible for many labor-saving suggestions. Upon the realization that the assemblies that she was building were responsible for killing people, somewhere, Olinka walked away from her job, never to return.
Ms. Hrdy established a studio in the foothills near Hollywood; here she designed for large plastics corporations; created backgrounds for television and movies; and illustrated letterheads, package designs and children's books. She drew plans for a great India Cultural Center called "Maharaja's Palace," to be built on Universal City Hill at Cahuenga Pass, Hollywood.
This writer could not determine at what point she returned to Prague to establish a home at 918 Barta Avenue. She is a member of the Prague United Methodist Church, and at the time of this writing, is suffering from a crippling arthritis.
Olive Marie "Olinka" Hrdy passed away on September 18, 1987, burial was in the Czech National Cemetery at Prague, Oklahoma.
© Lincoln County Oklahoma History - Page 392.

Submitted & © by: Sherry Springer


Czech National Cemetery

{Poem on Marker}

Fires dim as embers of fallen moonlight smoulder in your eyes - - many fires glowing strange colors
deep in your eyes, for you have slept in the shadow of a white rock and wandered long in the land of dreams.
The wind that whispers with the colored leaves, and sighs among the short grass on the prairie has blown
across your face, and chanted a strange music in your ears.
By Acel Garland

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