May 7, 2022 is the 100th anniversary of the birth and the 7th death anniversary of Marian Szeliński – the unforgettable, long-term President and President of the Honorary Branch of SITK RP in Krakow.
Marian Szeliński is already a legend in our community – everyone knew him not only in Krakow, but also in all other Branches of the Association scattered throughout Poland. He was respected, liked, everyone knew that he was a Renaissance man with many interests and talents. He was a constantly active, inventive, restless and creative man.
The following biography perfectly reflects what kind of Man, Friend and Member of the Association of Communication Engineers and Technicians, whom Marian Szeliński was so loved.
Marian Szeliński was born on May 7, 1922 in Krakow. His father was a railroad clerk, he had four siblings. Before World War II, he graduated from primary school, gymnasium and the first grade of the humanities secondary school at the VI State Secondary School and Junior High School. T. Kościuszko. During the war, in 1940-1943, he graduated from the State School of Construction, obtaining a technician diploma. In 1945, the diploma was verified by the State Industrial School for the maturity certificate of the Water and Melioration Secondary School.
In August 1943, after receiving a technician diploma, he was sent to work at the Land Office in Krakow. He managed the construction of local roads in the areas of the former Krakow and Bochnia poviats. After the liberation of Krakow in 1945, he passed his secondary school-leaving examination at the Secondary School of Humanities and began studies at the Jagiellonian University. He graduated in 1949 with a master’s degree in humanities. In the 1948/1949 academic year, as a final year student, he started working at the University as a junior assistant.
After graduation, on October 16, 1949, he started working at Państwowe Przedsiębiorstwo Robót Komunikacyjnych No. 1 in Krakow, which then changed its name to Przedsiębiorstwo Robót Kolejowych No. 9 in Krakow. He worked for the company continuously for 31 years until his retirement in 1981. During his professional career in PRK, he dealt with direct contracting on construction sites, holding the following positions: senior construction technician, measurement section manager, bridge works manager, works section manager, construction manager and deputy construction section manager for technical matters.
In 1956 he joined the management board of the company, working successively as: senior inspector of the production department, senior inspector of the organization and standardization department (from 1963), manager of the technique and standardization department together with the concrete and geotechnical laboratory (from 1965).
In 1972 he was appointed the deputy director of the company for general investment implementation. As part of this function, he managed the general implementation team for the construction of communication devices for Huta Katowice. At that time, he conducted many large railway investments, which resulted in the commissioning in 1976 of the marshalling yard in Strzemieszyce – Dąbrowa Górnicza and the railway lines connecting them with the PKP network. As a deputy director, he also dealt with the company’s own investments and preparation to undertake export works in railway construction.
Working in the enterprise, he developed a wide activity in the field of promoting the development of technology, inventiveness, rationalization, scientific and technical information, organization and technology of works. Those were the years full of his creative initiative and the implementation of ever more perfect technical solutions in the construction industry. In 1966, he obtained building qualifications in special construction in the field of communication in the specialty: railway lines, junctions, stations and bridges. By the decision of the Minister of Transport, he was recognized as an outstanding specialist in railway construction.
He met the movement of the Association of Communication Engineers and Technicians in 1952, becoming the secretary of the works club and then its chairman. From 1956 he was involved in the work of various working committees of the Board of the SITK Branch in Krakow, and in 1962 he joined the authorities of the Branch and became a member of the Board. He was entrusted with many responsible tasks, which he carried out with the utmost diligence.
In the years 1962-1967 he was a member of the Management Board of the SITK Branch in Krakow. Then, from 1967, he was the Deputy Chairman of the Branch Board, and five years later he became the Chairman of the Board – this function he held continuously for 22 years until 1994.
In the years 1972 – 1994 Marian Szeliński was also involved in the work of the entire Association, fulfilling important functions in its authorities. He participated in the work of various bodies of the Main Board, sections, committees and teams. Twice, in 1972 and 1990, he organized an event that was very important for SITK, which is the Association Congress. He was also the initiator of the Agreement of Provincial Branches of SITK of the South-Eastern Polish Macroregion, which he chaired.
An important activity of President Marian Szeliński – a specialist with great technical knowledge and professional achievements, but also a historian by education and passion – was managing the National Society of History and Monuments of Transport established by SITK in 1994. He held this function with great passion, commitment and great success until 2009. He was the initiator of the development and publication of scientific and technical journals on the history and protection of transport monuments. During his management of the Club, 3 monographs devoted to this subject were published.
Marian Szeliński was a tireless inspirer and organizer of work and associative life, he improved and perfected the methods and style of associative work. He was the co-author of subsequent amendments to the Statute of SITK and the Vademecum of the Employee Club, as well as the originator of the functional and organizational structures of the Association. After the Congress, which took place in Krakow in 1990, he became the initiator and co-author of the new model for the functioning of SITK. He developed a number of regulations, instructions and guidelines to improve and facilitate the activities of the association.
In Krakow, he initiated and introduced interesting and successfully adopted new forms of activity, incl. the so-called “Weeks of Communication”, organized annually for 25 years, “Krakow Days of Communication”, as well as “Days of Communication in the South-Eastern Macroregion of Poland”, or “Association Days” including various cultural and peer events, contributing to the integration of the engineering community – technical in the communication industry.
In parallel with his activity in SITK, he was also active in the structures of the Supreme Technical Organization – today the Federation of Scientific and Technical Associations. From 1966 he was a member of the Board of the NOT Provincial Branch in Krakow, then in the years 1981-1994 he was the Vice-Chairman of the Board of the Branch, while in 1988-1990 he was a member of the NOT Main Council in Warsaw, and from 1990 a SITK delegate to the General Assembly of SNT Delegates – the highest body of the federation. For his services, he was awarded the Golden and Silver NOT badge.
Marian Szeliński was a tireless animator of technical progress. Leading the implementation of many important tasks, he implemented modern technical and technological solutions, also in the field of management and organization. He attached great importance to the quality of the works performed. He supported the rationalization movement, he did it directly, e.g. he was the author of seven rationalization proposals that brought enormous economic benefits. He received the Badge and the Diploma of Merit Rationalizer. By his example, he encouraged others to undertake rationalization activities.
As a native Cracovian who loved his city very much, he was very sensitive to communication problems, in particular of Krakow, but also of the entire macroregion. He initiated taking up important issues both from the point of view of the city’s development and economic interests. He was able to understand the most pressing problems very well. Although from the beginning of his professional activity he was primarily a practitioner, he remained in constant contact with research and scientific units. He collaborated with the departments and institutes of the AGH University of Science and Technology and the Cracow University of Technology. His cooperation with the Department of Road Construction dates back to 1951, when he undertook the organization of the Geotechnical and Concrete Laboratory. He skillfully followed the latest trends and achievements in science, incorporated them into his professional practice and inspired science by sharing his experiences. He was the author of over 50 papers published in conference materials on various problems: work organization, economics of construction companies, comprehensive investment implementation, selected technological processes in communication construction, as well as the rationalization movement. President Szeliński not only wrote articles himself, but also mobilized others, effectively influencing them and encouraging them to prepare papers.
An important moment in the field of promoting the achievements of science, popularizing the achievements of the community and encouraging young engineers to expand their knowledge, as well as continuous training was his initiative to establish a scientific and technical publishing house in the Krakow branch of SITK. Since 1983, Scientific and Technical Papers of the SITK Branch in Krakow have been published. These notebooks are still published (the last one issued in 2020 is number 191) and have an established position in the transport environment. For many years, the Notebooks were on the list of scored journals of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
Marian Szeliński also edited materials of scientific and technical conferences. He encouraged to open up to the world, to foreign contacts, by organizing international conferences. He created the institutional framework for international scientific and technical cooperation, it was on his initiative that an agreement was concluded with the Railway Transport Institute in Moscow. The technical trips he organized and led on were unforgettable. Thanks to the friends he had in all the neighboring countries, delegations from the SITK Branch in Krakow were wonderfully hosted everywhere, they could learn about what is happening in technology and science at our neighbors.
An example of an activity related to the training of human resources is the fact that he initiated the organization of a competition for the best diploma theses in the field of transport for graduates of Krakow universities. Competitions have been organized continuously since 1974. They had an excellent impact on raising the level of students’ diploma theses and mobilized them to complete their studies on time. In addition, he organized the Tournaments of Young Masters of Technology, he was also a guardian of young engineers, he took care that they would adapt to new working and living conditions as soon as possible.
Marian Szeliński was also involved in the work of the Communication Problem Team of the Construction Commission at the Kraków Branch of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He also participated in the works of the Technology and Technology Section of the Transport Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences and in the Bridge Problems Group of the Construction Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow.
In recognition of his contribution to the integration of the scientific and technical community, as well as the training of engineering staff, the Senate of the university awarded Marian Szeliński the Honorary Badge of the Cracow University of Technology.
For many years, he served his city and region, doing everything to make the SITK Branch in Krakow become a collective expert in the field of communication. He could easily establish contacts with the authorities, organized conferences, seminars and meetings. The flagship and spectacular events include conferences devoted to: the problem of building the metro in Krakow, Aleja Trzech Wieszczów, Trasa Zwierzyniecka, or the organization of traffic in Śródmieście. In recognition of his services to the city and the voivodeship, he was awarded the Golden Badge “For social work for the city of Krakow” and “For services for the land of Krakow”.
The entirety of the activities was honored by the Commander’s Cross with the Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta awarded by the President of the Republic of Poland in 2002. This highest state award was especially close to his heart. For his services to the City of Krakow, he was awarded the “Honoris Gratia” Badge by the President of the City of Krakow (2007).
The outline of a person with great achievements emerges from the outlined characteristics. The question arises, is it possible for someone, even in the most difficult life, to be able to do so much by managing teams of people? It turned out to be possible thanks to extraordinary energy, creative initiatives, restless spirit, social vocation and passion to attack new problems. He was a constantly active, inventive, restless and creative man. Having achieved the intended goal, he immediately mobilized himself and others for the next actions. He can lead, attract and group older and younger colleagues around him. It was reliable in operation, always ready to take on the most difficult tasks. This inexhaustible and unflagging energy and ingenuity in solving problems, the accuracy and accuracy of choosing the best way in dealing with matters underline his outstanding organizational and managerial abilities.
Everything he did, he did with great commitment and in everything achieved the intended results. This passion for action, this dynamism is admirable and worth imitating. For many colleagues, both younger and older, he is a model of a fully devoted activist throughout his life to social work.
His actions gained recognition and were awarded with the highest association awards. In 1981, he was awarded the highest title of Honorary Member of SITK RP in the association. He was awarded the Golden and Diamond, Gold and Silver Badge of Honor of SITK, the title of Honored Senior, the badge of Friends of Transport Monuments and the Medal of the 60th Anniversary of SITK. He was also honored with the “Ernest” – statuette of Ernest Malinowski (2002) for his overall activity.
The Board of the Branch, grateful for the enormous contribution of the work for the Association, organized ceremonial meetings to honor its jubilees. In 1992, the 70th anniversary of his birth and the 40th anniversary of his activity at SITK were celebrated. On this occasion, two occasional scientific and technical journals of the Department were published in a new layout, containing many articles from the Krakow community dedicated to the Jubilarian. His work for the Krakow Branch and the entire Association was honored by granting him in 1994 the title of the first Honorary President of the SITK Branch in Krakow.
On October 14, 2002, under the patronage of the Małopolska Voivode, Jerzy Adamik, at the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, the Board of the Branch organized the celebration of the 80th birthday and 50th anniversary of his activity in the Association. The jubilee was combined with a scientific and technical conference on “History and protection of monuments in transport”. On this occasion, a scientific and technical notebook was published under the same title, devoted to the problems of the protection of transport monuments.
The next celebrations were organized on September 10, 2007 on the occasion of the 85th birthday and 55 years of membership in SITK. The meeting took place in Niepołomice, at the Royal Castle, in the Knight’s Hall. On this occasion, the Branch issued a jubilee notebook, developed and prepared by the Jubilarian especially for this occasion. The booklet entitled: “Technology in transport – history and monuments” contained very interesting articles and messages, richly illustrated with archival photos and documents by members and supporters of the National Club of Transport History and Monuments Enthusiasts operating in the Association.
In 2012, the 90th birthday of President Szeliński was celebrated. Unfortunately, the health condition did not allow to organize a great celebration. The intimate and touching ceremony took place in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Wacława and Marian Szeliński.
Marian Szeliński was married to Wacława, with whom he had two daughters: Małgorzata and Magdalena. His family has always supported him in all professional and association activities. His wife and daughters have accompanied him many times during meetings, celebrations, jubilees, they established very nice contacts with the members of the Branch, and one of the Daughters has been an active member of the SITK Branch in Krakow for many years.
Marian Szeliński died on May 7, 2015, the ceremonial funeral in the presence of the SITK Banner and the Honorary Banner Post took place at the Rakowicki Cemetery on May 14, 2015. His family and a large group of Association Friends from all over the country said goodbye to him.
Marian Szeliński, through what he was a man, activist, leader and friend, is so deeply rooted in the Association of Communication Engineers and Technicians that the memory of him, despite the passage of time, is still alive. Many members of SITK often visit the grave of his and his wife Wacława at the Rakowicki Cemetery. On each anniversary of his death, which is also the anniversary of his birth, representatives of the Branch Board and members visit his grave to stay with him, remember him, lay flowers and light a symbolic candle.
Compiled on the basis of historical materials
Janina Mrowińska – Secretary of the SITK RP Branch in Krakow