The benevolence of William Recklein

   Crawford County and Cuba, Missouri have been blessed with the benevolence of people who have accomplished much and wish to give back to their community. One of these people was William Recklein. The story that follows tells some of his story and legacy in Cuba.

   The Crawford Historical Society is starting a project of a lifesized statue of Mr. Recklein, which may be placed in the green area in front of the Museum.

   Please take time to acquaint yourself with the Reckleins. They were a part of our area in the past and left a nice treasure behind in the library, museum and auditorium.    

 

The Life of William and Ida Recklein

   In June 1898, at the age of 24 years, William Recklein entered the Army to fight in the Spanish-American War. He was assigned to Provost Guard Duty, Company D, First Missouri Infantry Unit.

   After his honorable discharge, he was active in such associations as the United Spanish War Veterans and became interested in stocks and bonds and other investments that might make a profit.

   In 1902, he married Ida Rau, a marriage that lasted 53 years. In 1906, William and Ida moved from South St. Louis to a farm approximately 1 1/2 miles from the City of Cuba, Missouri. There, they built themselves a beautiful home framed with rock that made it stand out like a beautiful jewel among the large trees, which they planted when they built their home.

   In 1969, after the death of Mr. and Mrs. Recklein, Fred Evans purchased the farm, and the house was renovated into a beautiful country club surrounded by a challenging, nine-hole golf course with large lakes.

   Mr. Recklein’s occupation was that of a corporate banker. He became an associate cashier at the Bank of Cuba, the oldest bank of Cuba. When you met Mr. Recklein in the bank, you soon learned he was strictly business. He was very good at handling his own money and made a considerable amount by investing in various stocks and bonds.

   In 1920, Mr. Recklein bought $3,000 worth of Anheuser-Busch stock and later sold it for $54,000. Mr. Recklein and another gentleman opened a gravel pit on the Meramec River west of St. Louis. Each of them put up $25,000.After operating it for five years at a good profit, Mr. Recklein sold out his half for $150,000.

   Mr. and Mrs. Recklein were very active in community affairs, including the Cuba Fair. Mr. Recklein was a Mason and Mrs. Recklein was active in Eastern Star. They both received 50-year pins for their work in these organizations. They were always there first whenever anything in the community needed to be done.

   On December 27, 1955 Mrs. Recklein passed away and Mr. Recklein’s health began to fade. He planned to leave a legacy for the generations to come. He talked of his plans to a friend, Mayor Cecil Markley. The sun was setting for this great benefactor, but in the late 1950s the public school buildings were abandoned in reorganization. The Cuba Public School, consisting of three units, was advertised to be sold at auction to the highest bidder. Mr. Recklein, weak in body but strong in spirit, called a bid of $10,000, a bid that was accepted. He then turned around and gave it to the city for $1 to make it official, with the understanding that it would only be used for education, recreation and the youth of the community.

   Mr. Recklein asked the mayor what he thought would be a good thing to do for the community in memory of his wife. The mayor suggested a library, saying that the town needed it and it would be something that all could use – young and old, rich and poor. Mr. Recklein put his hand on the mayor’s shoulder and said that was something that his wife always wanted. “Can you build one like the one at St. James,” he asked.

   It was determined that one was too large, so the mayor drew up a set of plans for a smaller one and told Recklein that it would cost around $75,000. He said to get it started.

   Recklein died on January 21, 1962. Four months after his death, the city held a dedication ceremony for the new library.

   The library today is the responsibility of a board of directors. The large stone building is now occupied by the Crawford County Historical Museum. The auditorium has been heavily renovated and improved by the city and is rented to the public for various social functions. All of this was made possible thanks to the dedication and vision of William Recklein.

     

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