The New School Archives Digital Collections

Francis J. Geck


life after 1900

Geck, Francis J., 1900- [info:lc/authorities/names/n85119620]

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Francis Joseph Geck was born December 20, 1900 in Detroit, Michigan to Jacob C. and Anna Mary Angermeier Geck. In his autobiographical writings, Geck divides his life into progressive stages of professional development: a stage design period (1923-1924), a teaching period (1924-1927), a professional period (1927-1930), an academic period (1930-1969), and a retirement period (1969-2005).

Geck’s high school education was interrupted by World War I, during which he was often required to leave school to work at a family-owned grocery store. In 1922, he graduated from Cass Technical School in Detroit with a certificate in Commercial Art. During this time he also studied oil painting with John P. Wicker. Geck’s instructors at Cass encouraged him to pursue his interest in stage design at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, which later became Parsons School of Design. During his studies, Geck excelled in his interior design courses, and Frank Alvah Parsons offered him a teaching fellowship at the school’s Paris Ateliers. After graduating in 1924, Geck remained in Paris as an instructor of Interior Architecture and Decoration. He also served as the New York School of Fine and Applied Art’s tour director and director of research classes in Italy and England.

Geck returned to Detroit in 1927 and worked as a designer for the interior decorating firm of William Wright, until the stock market crash forced its closure in 1929. While employed at William Wright, he designed the interior of the Lawrence Fisher mansion. He began teaching in the Fine Arts Department of University of Colorado at Boulder in September 1930 and would remain with that institution until his retirement in 1969. During that time, Geck received his M.F.A. from Syracuse University, published bibliographies on Italian art history, and wrote extensively on art education. In addition to reference texts, Geck developed a handheld pedagogical device called “Dial an English Furniture Style” which allows users to ascertain the provenance of period furniture.

Geck held official positions within numerous local and national arts organization, including Delta Phi Delta, a national honor art fraternity of which he was president from 1954 until 1958. In 1963, Geck received a Citation of Merit from the American Society of Interior Designs (ASID) for his work in design education.

Following his retirement, Geck returned to Michigan and prepared his teaching and lecture materials for self-publication. Geck’s wife, Evelyn Marie Sturdyvin, whom he married in 1937, died in 1981. Geck died September 12, 2005 in Roseville, Michigan, at the age of 104.

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