Brother David Typek, Franciscan Friar, barber, gardener, apple-cider specialist, Franciscan Crown Rosary maker, and a sandal maker! St. Francis himself, won’t be upstaged on his turf. David’s sandals have been worn by friars throughout the United States, in Jerusalem, Japan and even Rome and if there are jokes to tell about them, he deserves a chance to tell them.
Adolf Typek hails from McKees Rocks (near Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania; born on December 19, 1925 to Andrew and Mary (née Pszczoła) Typek and baptized at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church on January 3, 1926 and attended its parochial school. Completing his elementary education, Adolf entered Stowe High School in McKees Rocks. After finishing one year of high school, Adolf sought entrance into the Franciscan Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Pulaski, Wisconsin as a Lay Brother. With documents signed on the 8th day of August, 1941, Adolf was admitted as a tertiary and received the name, “David.” And so his Franciscan journey began. During his tertianship David was confirmed at ABVM Church, Pulaski, Wisconsin on May 14, 1942 by Bishop Peter Paul Rhode of Green Bay, Wisconsin. His sponsor was Bro. Edward Kraszewski. He chose Francis as his confirmation name, a fitting nod to his Franciscan vocation.
After completing a year in Pulaski working in the kitchen, printery and tailor shop, David was transferred to Burlington, Wisconsin. He arrived that summer but found his assignment in the tailor shop very difficult. On September 4, 1942, David wrote a letter to the Provincial Minister, Fr. Isidore Cwiklinski,
“I like to work outside, digging, picking or cutting. I guess it’s because I love nature so much and especially here. It is really beautiful. The flowers, trees and different kind of plants, the animals and the river with all kinds of fish, make the environment beautiful. I really mean this, Father, I’m not just talking out of my mouth, but from the bottom of my heart. So please, Father, grant my request that I may work out in the flower gardens. You would make me very happy. So I am asking you again, grant my request. O Lord help me!”
Those who knew David, knew that he had little difficulty speaking his mind and expressing his needs.
David was admitted to the novitiate on August 14, 1945 at Assumption-BVM Monastery, Pulaski and made simple profession on August 15, 1946. It was during his novitiate that he found himself as an apprentice to Bro. Crispin Marczak, learning the trade of a cobbler, a trade that he would eventually help him save souls. On August 15, 1949 he made Solemn Profession of Vows into the hands of Fr. Isidore Cwiklinski, Provincial Minister of the ABVM Province.
After solemn profession, David spent time in Green Bay and Sturtevant, Wisconsin, before returning to the task of “saving souls” in Pulaski. Making patterns, cutting leather and stitching the pieces together, gave David great delight. Knowing his ability to patiently craft his Franciscan sandals, Bro. Crispin also taught David how to cut hair, a skill he would share with the friars and laity in the years to come.
But it wasn’t until 1972 that David returned to Burlington and the gardens. The spring and summers found David up early to attend Mass and then off to the greenhouse and out on the grounds. Over the years many pilgrims found his manicured lawns and gardens a profound expression of God’s handiwork in creation. In the fall, David turned to the apple orchards. The orchard yielded large crops of apples each year. It was unacceptable for the fruit to rot. So David decided to try his hand at making apple cider rather than let the fruit rot. Hand picking the apples meant looking for additional hands. About a half-dozen college students were enlisted to help pluck the fruit. The bushelbaskets of apples were taken to a town farm where the apples were processed. The cider was then strained one last time before transferring the juice into contains for sale.
During the winter months, David returned to Pulaski and worked in the shoe shop. He would often entertain both friars and friends in the warmth of his shop. Those were the months that David would plan his next growing and planting season.
The ministry in Burlington was shifting and the needs of the Province were also shifting. It was in 1998 that David found himself once again in Pulaski. During this stay he was asked to care for the “Villa.” This northern Wisconsin site was a favorite place for the hunters and fishermen of the Province. David spent his summer at the Villa, carrying for the house and property while extending hospitality to all who came. He was truly in his element. Nature was his way of expressing his Franciscan Charism. The Canticle of the Creatures, written by St. Francis was a heartfelt prayer that touched David deeply. He was aware of Laudato Si’ before Pope Francis penned his encyclical.
By 2011, David’s physical needs began to weigh upon him and those who cared for him. David would return for the last time to Burlington but for only a year. His needs demanded further attention. After consultation with his doctors, the Provincial Nurse, Charlene Duley, and the friars, David was moved to St. Ann’s Rest Home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But after a short stay he was moved to the Milwaukee Catholic Home, Milwaukee in 2013.
Once at the Milwaukee Catholic Home he didn’t waste much time before he was planting seeds and raising masterful garden boxes for the residents sharing his room with seedlings and starter plants. During his stay there, David endeared himself to both residents and staff.
But his body could not sustain itself. Dealing with respiratory issues and several falls, his body gave out. It was on Saturday, July 4, 2020 that the staff found David lying quietly in the arms of Sister Death.
David died in the 94th year of his life and the 73rd year of his religious profession.
May the soul of David and the souls of all the
Faithful Departed, rest in peace. Amen.