Shimek, Bohumil

A bust photograph of a younger Bohumil Shimek. He is wearing a suit and tie, and has short dark hair and a short dark beard.
A bust photograph of a younger Bohumil Shimek, black and white. Source: Dr. Melissa Stewart
A framed painting of Bohumil Shimek. He is wearing a suit and bowtie. He has short white hair, a short white beard, and is wearing round glasses.
A bust portrait of Bohumil Shimek with a gold ornate frame. Source: Dr. Melissa Stewart
A black and white bust shot of an older Bohumil Shimek. He is wearing a suit and bowtie, has short white hair and mustache, and round glasses.
A bust photograph of Bohumil Shimek, black and white. Source: Dr. Melissa Stewart
A modern picture of the house that Bohumil Shimek lived in. It is sided a bright turquoise blue and has a large front porch with square columns.
Bohumil Shimek’s house, a current photograph. Source: Dr. Melissa Stewart

Bohumil Shimek

Bohumil Shimek is one of most well known of the Trustees as two schools and a state forest have been named for him. Although he never held office, he was a member of the original board in 1896.[1] He was a constant and active member of the board for fourteen years. In 1911, he resigned from the Library board to focus on his academic & and other community endeavors.[2]

Bohumil Shimek was born June 25, 1861 on a farm near Shueyville, Johnson County, Iowa to Francis Joseph and Maria Theresa Til Shimek. His parents were Czechoslovakian immigrants who fled to the United States to escape religious and political persecution under the Austrian Empire.[3] In 1866, the family moved to Iowa City for his mother’s medical care, but she succumbed to tuberculosis soon thereafter. His father worked as a cobbler, but died when Bohumil was only nineteen years old.[4] Bohumil first attended the University in 1878 as a student of engineering, graduating in 1883. His early career included work as a railroad and county surveyor. He taught zoology at the University of Nebraska from 1888 to 1890, but returned to the University of Iowa as an instructor of botany. Bohumil became an Assistant Professor in 1895 and earned a Masters degree in 1902.[5] He served as head of the Botany Department from 1914 to 1919. Professor Shimek travel widely throughout the Midwest collecting specimens. He retired from teaching in 1932 after dedicating over 46 years to his various sciences. He married Anna Elizabeth Konvalinka on June 23, 1886 in Iowa City and they had five children.[6] Anna died in 1922 and Bohumil remarried to Marguerite Meerdink on March 6, 1924.[7] Bohumil Shimek was widely recognized as the foremost expert in his fields during his lifetime and his support of education is recognized by the Iowa City school bearing his name. Shimek State Forest is also named in honor of this noted naturalist.

-Dr. Melissa Stewart

[1] Eggers, Lolly Parker, A Century of Stories, The History of the Iowa City Public Library, p. 52.

[2] Iowa City Daily Press, 1 April 1911, p. 1.

[3] Bohumil Shimek Gravestone, Oakland Cemetery, Iowa City, Johnson County, Iowa.

[4] The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa , University of Iowa Press Digital Edition.

[5] 5 University of Iowa Yearbook, 1913, p. 27.

[6] Iowa County Marriage Records, Vol. 334, pp. 52-649.

[7] Iowa County Marriage Records, 1924, Vol. 4, #70-12520.