There, Mr. Kurk met and fell in love with a beautiful Polish girl who was in a picture in his friend's house. He started writing eloquent letters to her, and she just couldn't resist. A few months later, they wed the day after Christmas, 1954.
Growing up in Texas, my brother Chris and I would get to see our maternal grandparents only a few times a year - they always drove down from New Jersey in what appeared to us to be the tallest silver van we'd ever seen with maroon curtains on each window. Finally, after a few long road trips, Krystyna and Chester Kurk, or "Babci and Dziadzi," the Polish names we had for them, decided to retire and move to the north side of Houston in the 80s.
Only, Dziadzi didn't want to retire.
The business dream became an evolving one - starting with going to auctions for foreclosures. This was during a historic recession in Houston, and Mr. Kurk and son-in-law (Dad) Mr. McGinley would come up with a cash dollar amount and plan their day around the closing time for bidding wars. It was a great plan for the foreclosure-flooded market.
Dziadzi and Dad kept planning, and saving. They'd figure out the dollar menu at fast food restaurants, and made lemonade out of sweet 'n' low packets, lemons, and water. They would spend hours researching the market, and figure out their next steps well ahead of time.
Finally, the Kurk-McGinley company grew enough from the foreclosures to purchase lots and start building spec homes. From the ground up, all of the homes needed to pass the first rigorous engineering test through Dziadzi. The strict standards of engineering the foundation and framing are continued as tradition today.
In the 90s, Dziadzi officially retired and remained our loving grandfather, giving advice and support until his health began to decline a few years ago.
Dad pushed on and grew the company with the market, moving to different neighborhoods and counties and progressing toward the more custom product that is provided today. Chris and I joined the company in 2007 and 2010, honoring our grandfather with keeping the Kurk Homes name and the traditions that Dziadzi and Dad implemented.
The world lost a beautiful person last December, right before Christmas, as Dziadzi closed his eyes for the last time. Although he may not be here, his presence is felt and his name carries on with the company that he and Dad began.
Today, Mr. Kurk would have been 90.
Happy Birthday Dziadzi, we will forever love and miss you.
Chester H. Kurk